News Media Policy and FAQs
PeaceHealth Southwest recognizes that media – print and broadcast – are vehicles of public education and that the media have a community responsibility to keep the public informed. The Medical Center shall cooperate in providing accurate and appropriate information while protecting the confidentiality of its patients.
PeaceHealth Southwest will work to facilitate an effective flow of accurate information to those who collect and disseminate such news to Clark County residents and surrounding communities.
Who can release information?
News media requests shall be cleared with the Marketing Department. The Administrative Manager on duty (house supervisor) shall respond to inquiries made in the late evenings, nights, weekends and holidays.
What information can PeaceHealth Southwest release?
PeaceHealth Southwest is bound by federal and state regulations and policies that limit public access to some information.
PeaceHealth Southwest shall protect the privacy and confidentiality of the patient and their medical records. No information shall be released to the media under the following conditions:
- The patient is a victim of sexual abuse;
- The patient is a victim of child abuse;
- The patient is receiving treatment for a psychiatric disorder;
- The patient is receiving treatment for chemical dependency;
- The patient is incapacitated and their physician has determined that release of information is not in the best interest of the patient;
- The patient has specifically requested that their health information be withheld from the media;
- The inquiry does not include the patient's name.
The following are patient condition classifications in use at PeaceHealth Southwest and approved by the Guide for Cooperation.
Undetermined: The patient is in the process of receiving physician assessment.
Treated and Released: The patient has been treated by the hospital and been released. In this instance, "treated" is the condition and "released" is the location. Generally, this indicates the patient's condition was satisfactory upon release.
Stabilized and Transferred: The patient was stabilized at the hospital and has been transferred to another facility for further care. The location of the facility where the patient was transferred should not be released.
Satisfactory: Vital signs (heartbeat, breathing, blood pressure, temperature) are stable and within normal limits. The patient is conscious and comfortable. Indicators are good.
Serious: Vital signs may be unstable and not within normal limits. Patient is acutely ill. Indicators are questionable.
Critical: Vital signs are unstable or not within normal limits. The patient may be unconscious. There is some doubt the patient will recover. Death could be imminent.
Deceased: The death of a patient may be reported to the authorities by the hospital, as required by law. The death may also be reported to the media after the next-of-kin has been notified, as long as the patient's body is still in the hospital. Information about the cause of death must come from the patient's physician and cannot be released without a written authorization from the decedent's next-of-kin or other legal representative.
Released: If a patient has been released and the hospital receives an inquiry about the patient by name, the hospital may confirm that the patient is no longer in the hospital but cannot give the release date, admission date, length of stay or any other information.
Cases of Public Record
In cases of public record (those reportable to fire, police, sheriff, health department or other public authority), patients have the same privacy rights as all other patients. PeaceHealth Southwest will provide information on patients involved in incidents of public record under the same guidelines listed above. PeaceHealth Southwest may refer media questions to the public entity that makes the hospitalization part of the public record.
Beyond the "One Word"
Media may have further access to or information about a patient when the patient has given written authorization. The following activities require written authorization from the patient or the patient's personal representative:
- Providing any statement beyond the one-word condition;
- Confirmation of the patient's age, gender, extent of injuries, admission date and discharge date;
- Taking photographs;
- Interviewing patients
Photographs and Interviews
Permission to photograph or interview a patient in the Medical Center may be given when:
- The phyician in charge of the case feels the patient's condition shall not be jeopardized, and
- The patient gives written consent (parent or guardian whent the patient is a minor). Consent/Release form must be completed.
Media should not contact patients directly. Requests must be made through the Marketing Department (Administrative Manager evenings, weekends and holidays). PeaceHealth Southwest 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, or if the patient refuses the interview.
Deadlines, News conferences, Disasters and Exclusives
PeaceHealth Southwest shall make every effort to help reporters meet deadlines by furnishing information promptly.
PeaceHealth Southwest shall provide news conferences when information is of a nature that is most effectively handled in such a manner.
In the event of a disaster, Southwest will alter its routine communication patterns and follow the plan set forth in the disaster plan.
When a news media representative obtains an exclusive story through his/her own initiative, the right to keep the story exclusive shall be respected. If asked by another journalist to confirm or amplify the story, the facts shall be given in accordance with the above policy and no attempt shall be made by PeaceHealth Southwest to delay response in order to protect the exclusive story. The news media representative must follow the above guidelines in attempting to photograph or interview the patient for his/her exclusive story.