Any personal information about your diagnosis, treatment and presence in our facility must come from you or your designated representative. This information is only available to the members of your immediate family whom you designate in writing to receive it.

Media Inquiries

Purpose

San Luis Valley Health recognizes the importance and benefits of maintaining a working, cooperative relationship with public media. In accordance with our vision, "your trusted partner in health," our goal is to provide accurate and timely information to the media when requested, while protecting the medical confidentiality that all hospital patients are legally entitled to.



Policy Statement

San Luis Valley Health's guidelines for working with media relations are based on voluntary participation with the Colorado Code of Cooperation Committee, "Public Information Guidelines for Colorado Hospitals, Physicians and News Media".

Guidelines

These guidelines include all hospital employees, medical staff and board members as regards the dissemination of information to the public; particularly the news media (TV, Radio, Newspaper) but includes family members or visitors as well.

Media inquiries about patient condition are to be initially directed to the Charge Nurse or Department Director if applicable.

  • For Emergency Department, Trauma and EMS, calls will be directed to the Director of this department, the physician on duty or the charge nurse 719-587-1312 or 719-587-1240.
  • For in-patient information, calls will be directed to Director of Medical/Surgical Services or the charge nurse of the patient’s unit 719-587-1325 or 719-587-1330.
  • In the evenings, the Night Supervisor will take calls at 719-587-1351. Information about patients may not be released without the patient’s permission, except in cases of public record. (See definitions.)

Media Inquiries: Patient Condition Reports

  • Media inquiries for inpatients may be directed to the Charge Nurse on the unit where the patient is located.
  • Media inquiries for all Emergency Department visits or Ambulance calls, may be made directly to the charge nurse or physician in the Emergency department 24 hours a day at 719-587-1240.
  • All external inquiries must request a condition report by the patient's name. Information regarding the condition and location of the patient may only be released if the inquiry specifically contains or specifies the patient's name.

Definitions

Public Record

Cases of “public record” are those reportable to public authorities, such as the police, fire department, or coroner. These commonly include, but are not limited to:

  • Persons brought to the hospital by authorities
  • Persons under arrest or held under police surveillance
  • Alleged stabbings
  • Poisonings
  • Shootings
  • Automobile injuries
  • Burns
  • Assault
  • Bites
  • Unusual industrial accidents

Procedure

Condition Report Guidelines

Charge Nurses should keep a record of the most recent information provided for the patient to ensure consistent reports across shifts. Inconsistent reports may imply neglect to patient care and thereby damage the hospital's reputation and credibility. Only a physician may discuss the patient's diagnosis. The hospital spokesperson may not speculate on how, why or what caused the patient's condition, but may describe that condition.

The following are standard terms and definitions used to describe the condition of a patient and must be given by authorized personnel. This includes Administrators, Department Directors, Night Supervisor and Charge Nurses.

Definitions of Patient Conditions

  • Undetermined.  Patient awaiting physician and assessment.
  • Good.  Vital signs, such as pulse, temperature, and blood pressure are stable and within normal limits.  Patient is conscious and comfortable.  Outlook for recovery is good or excellent.
  • Fair.  Vital signs are stable and within normal limits.  Patient is conscious.  Patient is uncomfortable or may have minor complications.  Favorable outlook.
  • Serious.  Acutely ill with questionable outlook.  Vital signs may be unstable or not within normal limits.  A chance for improved outlook.
  • Critical.  Questionable outlook.  Vital signs are unstable or are not within normal limits.  There are major complications.
  • Death.  May be reported by hospital after next of kin has been notified or after reasonable effort has been made to locate and notify next of kin.

Other questions about release information may be directed to:

  • Colorado Hospital Association:  303-758-1630 (hospitals)
  • Colorado Medical Society: 303-779-5455 (physicians)
  • Colorado Society of Osteopathic Medicine:  303-322-1752 (physicians)

Clergy Inquires for Patient Condition Reports

If a request is made by a member of the local clergy the patient condition report may be released provided that the patient is a member of the congregation. Hospital pastoral care volunteers are on 24-hour call and available by contacting Pager Number 719-852-7600. All clergy or hospital pastoral care providers are obligated to abide by the same code of confidentiality as hospital employees and physicians.

Family Inquiries for Patient Condition Reports

Patient information will not be released to inquiring family members or friends without the written consent of the patient. If the patient is a minor, or deemed incompetent, a condition report may be released with written consent of a parent or legal guardian.

Patient Condition Report: Unmarried Pregnant Minor

As a parent, the minor can consent to treatment and release of information for her baby without any involvement from parents or legal guardian. However, a minor cannot consent to her own care and treatment unless she is otherwise emancipated. This also applies to a condition report on any mother under the age of 18 who is not emancipated.

Patient Condition Report: Case of Public Record

In cases of public record, the following information may be released:

  • Patient’s name, city, marital status, age, sex, occupation and employer.
  • Exception: No identity or information that could identify the person may be released for sexual assault victims or psychiatric, drug or alcohol abuse patients (Federal Law).
  • Name of parent may be given if minor or deemed incompetent.
  • Name of accident, e.g. auto, fire, shooting, etc., but no statement of cause.
  • General information on nature of injury and condition of patient.

Patient Condition Report: Cases Other than Public Record

Information about patients should not be released without the patient's permission, except where the release involves a matter of public record (see above). When information has been requested and the patient is conscious and can communicate with the doctor or nurse in charge, the patient should be asked whether he or she will permit information about the illness or condition to be released. If the patient agrees to the release of information, it may be released following the same guidelines as for a case of public record. In the case of minors or deemed incompetent persons, a parent or guardian must give written consent for the release of information.

Cases Involving Public Figures or Hospital Employees

Public figures and employees should be treated in the same manner as other hospital patients. 
When newsworthy patients are in serious or critical condition, the hospital should arrange (through the attending physician and with the consent of the patient or immediate family) for frequent release of information to the news media. If the person prefers that the news of his or her illness be handled by a personal spokesperson, the hospital should ensure that information relative to the patient's medical condition is provided by an authorized source. The patient's discharge should be handled with caution. Publicity at this time can have an adverse effect on the patient's condition.

Release of Information

Nature of Injury. In order to protect the privacy of the patient, the hospital spokesperson may release only limited information about various types of accidents or injuries.

AIDS or HIV-related illness. No information may be released by the hospital. Aggregate statistics may be obtained from local health departments and from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Battered Children. The hospital spokesperson may describe the injuries sustained by the child, but may not speculate on the cause of the injuries.

Burns. The hospital spokesperson may state that the patient is burned. The severity, percent of body burned and degree of burns may be released after a physician has made a diagnosis.

Fractures. The hospital spokesperson may provide information on the location of the fracture and may say whether the fracture is simple or compound.

Head Injuries. The hospital spokesperson may state that the injuries are to the head.

Internal Injuries. The hospital spokesperson may state that there are internal injuries. The location of the injuries may be given after a physician has made a diagnosis.

Intoxication or Drug Abuse. The hospital spokesperson may not provide information on the admission or treatment of patients who have alcohol or drug abuse problems. In cases where a patient is brought to the hospital for acute care or trauma services, the spokesperson may describe the condition as provided in this section. The hospital spokesperson may not provide information that the patient was intoxicated, speculate that the patient had abused alcohol or drugs, or characterize the patient as an abuser.

Sexual Assault. The condition of the patient may be given. The hospital spokesperson may not say that the patient has been sexually assaulted, or provide information regarding the nature of the sexual assault or injuries.

Shooting or Stabbing. The hospital spokesperson may provide the number of wounds and their location if these facts have been definitely determined by a physician. No statement may be made as to how the shooting or stabbing occurred.

Suicide or Attempted Suicide. The hospital spokesperson may not provide any statement that there was a suicide or attempted suicide.

Transplant recipients and organ donors. The hospital spokesperson may not release any information that would identify, or help identify, recipients or donors unless the recipient or donor family has consented to disclosure. All releases of information should occur in cooperation with and communication between Colorado Organ Recovery Systems, Inc. and the hospital.

Photographs and Interviews

If a member of the media requests to photograph or interview a patient, a hospital administrator (Chief Nurse Office or Chief Marketing Officer) and Charge Nurse must be notified. The request will then be presented to the patient. The patient will then decide whether they would like to participate. In the case of a minor, consent must be given from a parent or guardian in writing.
If the patient agrees to the request, arrangements will be made for a hospital administrator to accompany the reporter to the patient's room.

Media are not permitted to take photographs inside the hospital without being accompanied by a hospital administrator.

Reporters are not to contact patients directly by calling the patient's room. The attending physician's name may be released to the news media except when the physician's specialty would relay inappropriate details as to the nature of the patient's problem.

Media interviews or photographs will not be permitted in the Emergency Room or Intensive Care Units. Reporters must wait until the patient has been either discharged from the Emergency Room or transferred to a regular room. All media visits should be prearranged with the Chief Nursing Officer or the Chief Marketing Officer. If a member of the media arrives unaccompanied by a hospital administrator, that reporter/photographer must be denied access to a patient's room. Call the appropriate hospital administrator for further instructions.