Patient Condition Reports Policy
Lakeland’s Policy on Patient Condition Reports
In an effort to ensure the privacy and security of patients, Lakeland HealthCare does not release information about patients’ conditions to the media.
In accordance with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), hospitals must follow minimum standards with regard to the release of patient information. Hospitals may impose stricter guidelines; under HIPAA, the more restrictive guidelines take precedence. In general, HIPAA provides for the release of limited information found in a hospital’s directory. Currently, Lakeland directories only indicate a patient’s name and their location within the facility.
Lakeland HealthCare spokespersons may only confirm the presence of a patient (when provided with a patient’s name by the media) at a Lakeland facility; no other information regarding conditions (including death) will be provided. In certain instances, the confirmation of whether or not a patient is present at a facility may not be released. Specific examples (though not an exhaustive list) include:
- Patients, their families, or legal representatives who do not wish to disclose their presence at a facility (i.e., they opt out of the patient directory).
- Patients who are being treated for psychiatric, drug, or alcohol abuse issues.
- Patients who are the victims of violent crimes (to ensure the safety of both patients and staff).
- Patients who are minors under age 18.
In cases where patients are transferred to other facilities, Lakeland HealthCare will not release the location to which they’ve been transferred. Hospital spokespersons may only confirm whether or not the patient is currently listed in a Lakeland directory (provided there are no extenuating circumstances as described above).
In extraordinary cases of natural or man-made disasters, Lakeland will follow its incident command center protocols and may release general information in aggregate to help allay any concern by the public. For example, “Lakeland is treating 10 individuals as a result of the tornado in St. Joseph.”