To welcome news media to St. Luke's, the following guidelines have been developed. Our goal is to make accessing St. Luke's facilities and expert medical staff as easy and efficient as possible for the media while still complying with Federal regulations such as HIPAA and American Hospital Association guidelines.
Please contact the Public Relations office to schedule interviews with physicians or any member of St. Luke's staff. Please note that Public Relations staff is unable to guarantee availability of physicians, staff, or patients for interviews.
Advance notice of interviews, videotaping, or photo opportunities at any St. Luke's facility is necessary so that Public Relations staff can arrange for an appropriate location; notify patient care areas and staff that will be affected; and arrange for patients, families, physicians, and staff appropriate for the story.
To protect the privacy of all patients and families at St. Luke's and to facilitate access to patient care areas, a representative from Public Relations must accompany all reporters, film crews, and photographers on any St. Luke's campus. In addition, we request that media respect the confidentiality of our patients and only use the information gained during interviews/tapings of patients under those circumstances designated by the informed consent.
Public Relations staff at St. Luke's are available to assist news media in answering questions about the hospital, locating an expert spokesperson, or obtaining more information about a patient, news release, or special event.
After hours or weekend media contact:
(208) 381-1731 (ask for the Administrative Supervisor)
Joy Prudek, Public Relations Coordinator
Direct Line: (208) 727-8435
Michelle Bartlome, Public Relations Coordinator
Direct Line: (208) 814-0015
After hours or weekend media contact:
(208) 814-1000 (ask for the Patient Care Coordinator)
Laura Crawford, Public Relations Manager
Direct Line: (208) 630-2223
Hospitals and other health care providers must comply with federal privacy regulations enacted under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The HIPAA Privacy Rule is codified at 45 C.F.R. part 164, and limits the ability of these entities to disclose information to the media. This summary is designed to explain these limits to the media and facilitate understanding and cooperation between the media and hospital personnel.
HIPAA and Idaho law generally prevent the hospital, physicians, and other health care providers from disclosing any “protected health information” about a patient without the patient’s prior consent. “Protected health information” includes any information about a patient’s health, health care or payment, including the patient’s condition, treatment or facts giving rise to the their health care.
A description of the patient’s general condition, e.g., whether the patient’s condition is “undetermined,” “good,” “critical,” or the patient has been “treated and released.” The hospital may not disclose any specific medical information about the patient. [45 C.F.R. § 164.510(a)(1)(C).]
The hospital may not provide this information if the patient has objected to such disclosures or if the hospital determines that it is not in the best interests of the patient to disclose the information.
Emergencies. HIPAA generally requires the patient or their personal representative to consent to disclosures. In emergency situations, the hospital may not be able to obtain the patient’s consent because the patient is unconscious or incapable of giving consent. Accordingly, the hospital may not be able to disclose any information to the media in the immediate aftermath of an emergency because there has not been time to obtain the consent from the patient or the patient’s representative.
Deaths. The hospital’s privacy obligations do not end with the patient’s death. The same privacy rules apply after a patient has died. If consent has been obtained and the next of kin has been notified, the hospital may disclose that a patient is “deceased”; however, the hospital many not provide any information about the death, including date, time or cause.
Drug or Alcohol Treatment. Federal and state statutes place additional restrictions on treatment for drug or alcohol abuse. The hospital may not disclose any information concerning a patient who is being treated for drug or alcohol abuse, including any information about their presence in the hospital.
Matters of public record or public knowledge. The privacy rules apply even though the information is a matter of public record or public knowledge. Absent a patient’s consent as described above, the hospital may not disclose protected health information to the media even though the same information may be found in public records or has been reported elsewhere.
Information beyond the general description of condition. A specific written authorization must be obtained from the patient or their legal representative before the hospital can do any of the following:
Media access to patients at the hospital. The hospital’s primary duty is to care for all of its patients. It also has the responsibility to protect patients’ privacy. Media access, if not managed in an appropriate way, can impact the hospital’s ability to do so. In addition, media access may unintentionally violate the privacy rights of patients other than the target of media attention, e.g., video or photographs may include other patients who have not consented to disclosure. Accordingly, media representatives and photographers should contact the hospital’s designated spokesperson for assistance in obtaining interviews and/or photographs of patients, employees and areas of the hospital. The hospital representative must obtain the patient’s written authorization before allowing such disclosures.
Disasters. In the event of a disaster, hospitals may disclose information to the media if it does not identify a patient. Thus, the hospital might report or confirm that a disaster has occurred and, in general, that unidentified patients have been admitted for treatment. However, the hospital may not disclose any information that identifies or could be used to identify a patient.
Hospitals and others can face serious penalties for using or disclosing protected health information about their patients without proper permission. Fines can range from $250 per violation for innocent violations, and up to $250,000 and 10 years in prison for intentionally wrongful disclosures.
We fully realize and appreciate the valuable role the media plays in the community. We fully intend to work with the media and cooperate in every way possible. However, the hospital’s primary concern must be to its patients as well as its legal and ethical obligations, including those set forth in the Privacy Rule. We hope that by sharing the above information, hospitals and media will continue their good relationship.
The following terms or descriptions of patient conditions will be used by St. Luke's in accordance with the American Hospital Association (AHA) guidelines:
If a disaster occurs, patient care is the first priority. However, any of your requests or needs will be met as soon as possible. Please familiarize yourself with the following plan: