Release of Information to the News Media

Patient Conditions and Privacy

To obtain a patient’s condition, contact the Communication & Public Affairs Department by calling 617-525-6370 (M – F, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.) or by dialing 617-732-6660 and paging the Public Affairs on-call representative at pager #13160. A Public Affairs on-call representative is available 24/7, 365.

  • Members of the media seeking a patient condition must provide the patient’s full name and correct spelling.
  • To protect patient privacy, no information beyond a one-word condition will be released.
  • Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a patient or his or her legal representative may exercise his or her right to restrict the release of patient condition information. If a patient requests that his or her condition be restricted, the hospital may not release any information nor confirm that the patient is being cared for at the hospital.

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.
  • Deceased – Only confirmation of death can be provided, not time or date of death.

Communication & Public Affairs works to provide accurate and timely information about patients’ conditions, while also respecting patients' wishes and complying with HIPPA privacy regulations. To that end, the hospital does not release information about patients whose injuries may have resulted from domestic abuse or violent crime, or patients who have requested their information be restricted.

To ensure confidentiality, privacy and appropriate sensitivity to patients and families, reporters, film crews and photographers must always be accompanied by a BWH Communications & Public Affairs staff person while on the BWH campus. Media must arrange all interviews and photo shoots with BWH staff or patients in advance through BWH Communication & Public Affairs.

Employee Information

No information about employees will be released to the media, except for current employment status.

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