Information for Journalists
Avanti Hospitals welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with the news media and serve as a resource of healthcare information.
Our Corporate Marketing and Communications Department is a full-service office that encompasses media relations, social media, crisis communication and public affairs.
Media Relations Policy
All inquiries from the news media regarding the condition of a patient, or Avanti Hospitals’ events, programs, personnel changes, and interaction between the hospital system and the community must be made to the Corporate Marketing and Business Development department. Avanti Hospitals has a designated person on duty to handle media inquiries at all times, either at the hospital or on-call. The spokesperson has the authority to release information to representatives of the news media.
Avanti Hospitals and its facilities follow the patient confidentiality guidelines under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) to provide medical information or confirm treatment of patients. Among other things, the HIPAA privacy regulations restrict the information that healthcare providers may include in a facility directory and release to the public, including news media. Directory information is limited to four elements, and patients have the option of further restricting release of the directory information. Under HIPAA, news media must provide the patient’s first and last name when requesting patient information. In turn, the Avanti Hospitals authorized spokesperson can only provide a one-word condition, unless the patient has signed written consent for additional information beyond the one-word condition. The directory elements are:
- Name (information can be confirmed only to those who ask about the patient[s] by name)
- Condition (using terms defined within this document)
- Location within the hospital (providers are permitted but not required to release)
- Religion (available to authorized persons with patient approval)
Please note: The HIPAA Privacy Rule requires that all patients be given the opportunity to opt out of the patient directory. If a patient chooses to opt out, no information can be released about that patient. Unless a patient has exercised the opt-out provision, directory information about a patient (excluding the religious affiliation information) can be shared with any person, including members of the news media, who inquires about the patient by name.
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, but may be uncomfortable or may have minor complications. Outlook is favorable.
SERIOUS – Vital signs are unstable or not within normal limits. Patient is acutely ill and may be unconscious. Chance for improved outlook.
CRITICAL – Vital signs are unstable or not within normal limits. There are major complications; patient may be unconscious. Outlook is unfavorable.
UNDETERMINED – Patient awaiting physician and assessment.
TREATED AND TRANSFERRED – Received treatment: transferred to a different facility. (Although a hospital may disclose that a patient was treated and transferred, it may not release any other information regarding the patient, including the date of transfer or the place where the patient went upon transfer, without the patient’s authorization.)
TREATED AND RELEASED – Received treatment but was not admitted.
EXPIRED – Patient is deceased. Confirmation will be withheld until the next of kin has been notified or after a reasonable time has passed. A hospital may not disclose information regarding the date, time or cause of death. Information regarding cause of death comes from the coroner in most cases. In California, death certificates are public record (Media wishing for additional information on patients who have expired are urged to call the medical examiner’s or coroner’s offices, if applicable).
It is our goal to timely respond to inquiries by the media, while protecting our patients’ right to privacy and allowing our clinical staff uninterrupted time to deliver excellent care to that patient.
No employees, physicians or volunteers shall represent the company or its facilities in the media without authorization of the Avanti Hospitals Corporate Marketing and Communications Department.
Media is defined as (but not limited to) television (cable, local, network and independent production companies), radio, wire services, newspapers, web sites (including social networking sites), blogs, podcasts, magazines and other periodicals.
An Avanti Hospitals authorized spokesperson/representative must accompany the media at all times while they are in a hospital. Avanti may deny the media access to the patient if it is determined that the presence of photographers or reporters would aggravate the patient’s condition or interfere with patient care. Written authorization from the patient is needed to obtain medical information beyond directory information, including photographs or interviews. If the patient is a minor, written authorization must be obtained from a parent or legal guardian. Patients who agree to be interviewed or filmed at a hospital by the media must provide written consent.
A representative is available from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. After working hours, an administrative supervisor at each hospital will handle media calls for a condition report on a patient. Media can also request to speak to the designated spokesperson on-call after hours.
We welcome the press; however, we ask you to respect our patient’s rights to privacy for themselves and their guests. As long as they are not disrupting traffic flow, the media have the right to remain on and broadcast from public areas, including public sidewalks on the perimeter of the hospital campus. The media also have the right to take photographs or videotape from these points (provided incoming patient privacy is not compromised). The media is NOT permitted to photograph or videotape within 50 feet of the Emergency Department entrance, as they may disrupt patient/ambulance arrivals and inadvertently photograph/videotape Emergency Department patients.
When the media is waiting for information or to do an interview, Security will ask the media representative to wait in their vehicles at the designated area. Wherever the media waits, Security staff will monitor the area to ensure the media remains there and is not disrupting hospital visitors or traffic flow.
Patient confidentiality is of paramount importance to Avanti Hospitals. The patient’s right to privacy supersedes all media requests for information.