Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island
Department: Marketing Communications
Date of Policy: October 31, 1979
Effective Date: October 31, 1979
Subject: Public Relations Media Contact
Revised: June 16, 2010
To safeguard Women & Infants’ public image, assure consistency with hospital policies/positions, help preserve confidentiality of patient information, and to provide media outlets accurate and timely access to information. This policy governs media relations for the hospital, including outreach and response to the media. It enables Women & Infants to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996, which governs privacy standards for health care information.
It is the responsibility of the Marketing Communications Department to coordinate all proactive and reactive statements to the news media on behalf of the hospital, its employees and its physicians, as well as its patients.
A. All information requests, interviews, photographs or videos involving patients, their families or visitors to the hospital require advance consent and completion of the Photography/Media Release Form (attachment) which, in the case of patients, should be filed in the patient’s medical record. For newborn, minor or incompetent patients, parental/legal guardian consent and signature are required.
B. Information about the condition of an inpatient, outpatient or emergency department patient may be released only if the inquiry specifically contains the patient’s name and as long as the patient has not requested that information be withheld. If these conditions are met, the patient’s one-word condition may be released without obtaining prior patient authorization.
Patient condition responses should be limited, as outlined below:
Undetermined: Patient awaiting physician and assessment.
Good: Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious and comfortable. Indicators are excellent.
Fair: Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious, but may be uncomfortable. Indicators are favorable.
Serious: Vital signs may be unstable and not within normal limits. Patient is acutely ill. Indicators are questionable.
Critical. Vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits. Patient may be unconscious. Indicators are unfavorable.
In the case of obstetrics patients, condition will typically be reported as “good” or “fair” - no further information, including whether a baby has been delivered, the gender or condition of the baby, should be given.
4. Patient consent must be obtained before giving any information about the patient or about birth status, condition or gender of the baby. Any other detailed information that goes beyond the patient’s one-word condition requires consent and completion of the Photography/ Media Release Form.
5. It is the responsibility of the Marketing Communications Department to issue news advisories/releases, interface with the media, obtain any necessary administrative/ department clearance for media visits/interviews, accompany the hospital’s resources during the interview, and advise, as appropriate, the switchboard, Security Department and other personnel in advance of a media visit.
6. It is the responsibility of employees or physicians seeking to involve the news media or independent video, film or publication representatives in filming, photographing or interviewing patients, employees, physicians or hospital facilities to coordinate these activities through the Marketing Communications Department with as much advance notice as possible.
7. It is the responsibility of employees or physicians contacted by the news media during regular business hours to immediately refer the call to the Marketing Communications Department.
During evening, night or weekend hours, media calls should be immediately referred to the nursing supervisor who will be responsible for fielding the inquiry, determining the need to contact a designate of the Marketing Communications Department and, in the event of an interview, photograph or video, obtaining the appropriate patient consents and release form(s) signatures.
8. It is requested that any public figure or special interest case which could result in media interest be conveyed at the earliest convenience to the Marketing Communications Department.
May Kernan, Vice President of Marketing Communications
Mark Marcantano, Chief Operating Officer