The media relations team at Allegheny Health Network welcomes the opportunity to work with reporters in the development of medical news stories, including news related to patients admitted to the Network’s hospitals. To facilitate this process in a timely and effective manner, we have established the following guidelines for requesting patient information, patient interviews, interviews with physicians or other Network representatives or the shooting of film, photography or video for news purposes at any of our clinical campuses:
- Please call a member of the Media Relations team directly or the Allegheny Health Network Department of External Affairs at 412-330-4444 to request information or arrange for interviews or photographs involving a patient or staff member of the Network. During off hours or weekends, members of the Media Relations team can be reached via their mobile phones or by calling 412-359-3131 and asking the operator to page the media relations on call representative.
- All on-site interviews or photographs involving patients and/or Network staff must be cleared in advance by the Media Relations team. Such advance notice will help us ensure that the facilitation of media requests is conducted in an effective and efficient manner, while also ensuring that patient privacy and confidentiality are not compromised.
- To further ensure patient confidentiality, privacy and appropriate sensitivity to patients and families, reporters, film crews, and photographers must always be accompanied by a member of the Media Relation team while on any Network clinical campus. The Network media relations representative will secure a signed release from patients involved in a news story prior to filming, photographs or interview.
Allegheny Health Network is committed to protecting the privacy and confidentiality of its patients and their medical information as mandated by the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). In accordance with HIPAA regulations, the following policies are strictly followed by the Media Relations team:
In most cases, we will be able to provide a one word condition – good, fair, serious or critical – or indicate that the person is deceased or has been discharged. The extent or nature of a patient’s injuries will not be disclosed under any circumstance without the direct, written consent of the patient. Patient conditions are defined as follows:
- Undetermined – Patient is still in the process of being assessed by the medical team.
- 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 not favorable.
The victims of assault or other crimes are often listed under a “protective status” and are not included in the hospital’s patient directory. We cannot provide any information pertaining to such a patient’s condition or even confirm they are in the hospital.
The Law also prohibits the release of any information to the news media about psychiatric related hospital admissions and no information is provided on any patients under the age of 18 without the direct, written consent of the patient’s official guardian.
Patients involved in motor vehicle crashes, natural disasters, work site accidents and so forth are often sought after for interview by the media. In such circumstances, if a reporter has the patient’s full name, the media relations team will make every effort to accommodate the interview request if the patient is in a suitable condition to be approached. All other aforementioned policies related to the patient consent process apply.