Protecting Our Patients
Protecting patient privacy and the confidentiality of patient information is a primary responsibility of the media relations office at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has established privacy standards that protect the kind of information the media relations staff can provide about hospital patients and it also dictates the way in which patient information is reported to the media.
Under this law, individuals entering the Medical Center for any kind of treatment are given an opportunity to "opt in" or "opt out" of the patient directory.
If they "opt in," the Medical Center is allowed to release a "one-word" condition (see below) about a patient's status upon request from the media, but only if the patient's first and last name is provided to the media relations staff.
If they "opt out," or if a patient's first and last name cannot be provided, no information can be released. In this case, HIPAA will not even allow us to acknowledge that the patient is or was at our facility.
Patient Condition Definitions
- Undetermined: Patient is awaiting evaluation by a physician
- 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: Vital 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