Understanding Hospital Media Policies
Hospitals and health systems are responsible for protecting the privacy and confidentiality of their patients and patient information. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) mandates regulations that govern privacy standards for healthcare information. For more information, please see Healthcare Association of New York State's Guide to Hospital Public and Media Relations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Upon admission, Stony Brook University Medical Center provides all patients an option regarding inclusion in the patient directory as required by Federal law. Patients are asked in the admission/registration process if they would like to opt out of the facility patient directory.
Clinicians find the "critical but stable" term useful when discussing cases amongst themselves because it helps them differentiate patients who are expected to recover from those whose prognosis is worse. However, a critical condition means that at least some vital signs are unstable, so this is inherently contradictory. The term "stable" should not be used as a condition. Furthermore, this term should not be used in combination with other conditions, which by definition, often indicate a patient is unstable.
When a death is investigated by the county coroner, questions about the cause of death should be addressed to that public office. The coroner's office may also have information about which funeral home is handling arrangements for the deceased.
Law prohibits Media Relations from releasing any information to the news media about psychiatric or substance abuse patients. Also, no statement may be made pertaining to whether a patient has a sexually transmitted or communicable disease, or is a victim of domestic violence or child abuse.
To reach a member of the Stony Brook University Medical Center Media Relations staff, please call 631.444.7880 during normal business hours or contact central paging at 631.689-8333 and ask to have the Media Relations staff person on-call to be paged after hours.
A patient also may also terminate an interview at any time. In such cases, the news media must immediately end the interview and any related recording or filming of the interview subject. If such a patient also withdraws consent at that time, news media once again may not release protected health information or in any way identify the patient.
Please also note that under federal policies and laws, "protected health information" includes direct or "overheard" conversations between and among caregivers, patients and family members, as well as information contained in medical records. Therefore, while Stony Brook University Medical Center provides reasonable press access to its facilities, if members of the press should overhear or see "protected health information" that is not covered by an authorization they must not use or disclose that information without obtaining a specific authorization for that information. To keep inadvertent disclosures to a minimum, restrictions in some areas may be imposed and escorts for all news media film crews and still photography are required.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.