Patient Condition Reports
In accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 ("HIPAA"), with New Hampshire state law, and with Dartmouth-Hitchcock policy, our patients' privacy is respected and protected at all times.
Requests for information about patient conditions must include the full name of the patient; age and hometown, if available, are also helpful in locating the patient within our system.
If the patient, or parent or guardian (in the case of a minor) allows directory information to be released, the patient's condition will be described in one of four, one-word reports, as outlined by the American Hospital Association:
- Good/satisfactory - 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 addition, a report of "still being evaluated" means that the patient is awaiting a physician and/or assessment.
In some cases, even if you provide the full name of a patient, the hospital spokesperson may say "that name is not on the list of names of patients for whom I am authorized to release information." There may be several reasons for this response:
- The patient has exercised the right to have no information released regarding his or her hospitalization.
- The person is not a patient at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
- The patient is being evaluated and has not yet been admitted to the hospital.
- The patient has been discharged from an inpatient unit or was treated and released from the Emergency Department.
- The patient has died.
In the case of patients who have died, no information will be released until next-of-kin have been notified or all reasonable efforts to locate next-of-kin have been exhausted.
At the discretion of the External Relations staff, and in consultation with the medical staff, media requests for interviews are presented to patients and/or family members in a timely manner. Unless the medical staff deems an interview medically inappropriate, efforts will be made to accommodate media requests for interviews. If the patient makes arrangements for an interview, it is still dependent on approval from the medical staff and External Relations before final arrangements will be made.