Media Guidelines

USC Verdugo Hills Hospital recognizes its responsibility to provide accurate public information. Reporters can access information from USC Verdugo Hills Hospital through the Marketing and Public Relations Department as well as from this Web site. We understand deadlines and are dedicated to meeting them by responding to queries promptly. We promise the quickest possible turnaround times; and when we contact the media, we do it in a way that respects their time and their interests. In return, we ask that you respect our obligation to protect our patients’ well-being and legal right to privacy.

When the new federal HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations became effective April 14, 2003, the information that we are able to provide to the media changed. Because of stricter patient confidentiality requirements, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital is unable to give out as much information as we did in the past.

The staff at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital operates under the following media guidelines and policies:

HIPAA regulations require that the hospital release patient information only when the media request includes the patient’s name and only if the patient has agreed to the release of such information.

Protecting the privacy of patients and their families is our responsibility. It is also the law. We will contact patients and families upon your request to ascertain their interest in being interviewed, but if they choose not to be interviewed, we ask you to respect their decision.

Reporters should call the Marketing and Public Relations Department to arrange any interviews with members of the USC Verdugo Hills Hospital team. We will schedule interviews for you. If the person you request is not available, we may be able to provide an alternative source.

All interviews with patients, including telephone interviews, must be approved in advance by VHH representatives. Access to patients will be arranged if the patient is willing and his/her condition permits. This is to ensure the patient’s health is not adversely affected and to ensure his/her ability to consent to an interview is not compromised by illness, injury, or medications.

All media visits to USC Verdugo Hills Hospital must be approved in advance by the Marketing and Public Relations Department. When news crews must be dispatched immediately, please call the Marketing and Public Relations Department to let them know that reporters are on their way.

To ensure patient confidentiality, privacy, and sensitivity to all of the patients, families, and employees at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, reporters, film crews and photographers must always be accompanied by the director of Marketing and Public Relations or a designated management team member while on the hospital campus.

Because of HIPAA, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital can only release a one-word description of a patient’s condition to the media, but only if the patient is listed in the hospital directory. We use the following terms to describe a patient’s condition:

Undetermined – Patient is awaiting physician and/or 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 – 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.
Deceased – Announcement of death is not routinely made by the hospital. News of dead-on-arrival cases and subsequent death is considered public information only after the next-of-kin is notified. Information on the cause of death must come from the physician with permission from the family. If the death comes under investigation by the coroner or medical examiner, all calls will be directed to that agency.

If the patient has been released, we may disclose either of the following:

Treated and released, or

Treated and transferred to another health care facility.

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