Our Media Relations staff provides general patient condition information to journalists within the limitations imposed by the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). A full patient name, age or date of birth, and hometown are required for us to research your request.
Family members seeking information on a patient should call the main hospital number, and ask the operator to connect you to the patient's care team.
If the patient has consented to release of information, we will provide journalists with one of four, one-word conditions, as established 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 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. Under federal law, any patient has the option to expressly state that he or she does not want information released, including confirmation of his or her presence at any Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and Clinics facility. Release of detailed information or information on minors requires written consent of the parent, guardian or legal representative.
- 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.
- 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.
Any patient who will be interviewed, videotaped or photographed within a Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and Clinics facility must first sign an approved, HIPAA-compliant consent form. Media relations staff are authorized to obtain patient consent and will attend all interviews with patients and family. Out of respect for all patients and our staff, we do not allow in-room or bedside interviews of our patients.