HIPAA is an acronym that stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. HIPAA includes regulations that govern the use and release of a patient's personal health information. HIPAA also limits the kind of information hospitals can disclose regarding patients.
Under HIPAA regulations, patients have the right to object to or restrict the use or disclosure of information contained in the directory.
If a patient does not object to this information being included in a hospital directory, a reporter asking for the patient by name can be privy to the general condition of the patient.
If media does not ask for the patient by name, no individual identifiable information about the patient may be disclosed.
If HIPAA privacy standards are met, general-condition information may be provided that does not communicate specific information about the individual. The American Hospital Association recommends the following one-word descriptions of a patient's condition:
- Undetermined: Patient awaiting physician and assessment.
- Good: 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: Vitals 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.
- Treated and Released: Patient received treatment but was not admitted.
- Treated and Transferred: Received treatment. Transferred to a different facility. (a hospital may disclose that a patient was treated and released, it may not release information regarding the date of release or where the patient went upon release without patient authorization.)
In compliance with Federal HIPAA regulations and out of respect for patients and their families, Ochsner Health System cannot comment on current or previous patients.
Contact us for more information.