Patient conditions are released to the media, providing the reporter is able to identify the patient by name with correct spelling. To protect patient confidentiality, BWH does not release any patient information other than a one-word condition description as defined by the American Hospital Association. Patient conditions are defined as follows:
- Good – Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Expected outcome is excellent.
- Fair – Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient is responding to treatment. Expected outcome is favorable.
- Serious – Vital signs are stable at present. Patient is acutely ill. Expected outcome is unpredictable.
- Critical – Vital signs are unstable. Expected outcome is unpredictable.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires all hospitals to ask permission from each patient, or his or her legal representative, to disclose information about the patient’s medical condition. Under HIPAA, a patient may exercise his or her right to refuse or limit the release of this information.
The Communication and Public Affairs Department works directly with the media to provide accurate and timely information about patients’ conditions, while also respecting patients' wishes and complying with HIPAA privacy regulations. To that end, the hospital does not release information on patients whose injuries may have resulted from domestic abuse or violent crime, or have requested to be placed on a HIPAA block.
To obtain a patient’s condition, contact the Communication and Public Affairs Department at 617-534-1600, or by paging the Public Affairs On-Call Representative at 617.732.6660 after 5 p.m.
- Members of the media seeking a patient condition must provide the patient’s full name and correct spelling.
- No additional information beyond the one-word condition will be released.
- If a patient requests that their condition remain restricted, the hospital may not release any information nor confirm that the patient is being cared for at the hospital.
- No information about a patient who has died at the hospital may be released without the authorization of next of kin. Once next of kin has been notified, only confirmation of death can be provided, not time or date of death.
Send Feedback to: BWH Media Relations
This page was last modified on 10/20/2011