Media Guidelines

The Corporate Communications Department of University Health System handles all media inquiries and can be reached, at 210-358-2335.

After hours and on weekends, routine patient condition reports to the news media are handled by the Emergency Department Registration Supervisor at 210-358-2132.

Inquiries considered sensitive or difficult that occur after hours on weekends may be referred to the Corporate Communications staff who are on-call and available by pager at 210-203-3300.

Rules for Taping

In General, the Following Rules Will Apply:

  1. On-duty reporters/photographers are not permitted in University Hospital without the permission of Corporate Communications. Reporters and photographers not escorted by an employee will be immediately removed from the building.
  2. Videotaping and interviewing without Corporate Communications involvement is permitted outside of the hospital building. But the media will be asked to leave the premises if found to be interfering with patient care or routine hospital business.
  3. News vehicles may not park in fire lanes or block driveways.
  4. Patient consent will be secured prior to any videotaping or photographing.
  5. The news team will agree to stop taping, photographing, or interviewing at any time upon the request of the patient, physician, nursing staff or a staff member from Corporate Communications.
  6. The news team will abide by any other rules imposed by the hospital, including prohibiting coverage of suicide attempts, DOAs, sexual assaults or other police cases.

News Media Patient Information Requests

No information on a patient's condition may be released unless the name of the patient is provided by the requestor. A hospital may not release the names of patients. Patients may choose to exclude themselves from the hospital directory in which case no information is allowed to be released.

The directory information includes the nature of the patient's injury; the patient's city of residence, sex and age; and the general health status of the patient described in such terms as:

  • Undetermined. Status is pending X-ray, physician's examination or outcome of surgery.
  • Critical. Vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits. The patient may be unconscious (indicators are unfavorable).
  • Poor. Vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits. Patient is acutely ill. (Indicators are questionable.)
  • Fair. Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. The patient is conscious and comfortable (indicators are favorable).
  • Good. Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. The patient is conscious and comfortable (indicators are excellent).

Policy Summary

University Health System strives to keep the public informed of its activities and to cooperate with the news media. However, protecting a patient's privacy and maintaining confidentiality of health care information are of paramount importance to University Health System. Inquiries regarding patients must be directed to the proper person, defined in this policy. "Directory information" will be released for adult patients without specific written authorization by the patient, unless the information is protected by state or federal law, or the patient requests that no information be released.

Minors

University Health System will not release any information regarding a minor without a written consent of the parent or legal guardian.

Disaster Patients

Unless the victim has instructed the hospital not to make the disclosure, University Health System will provide directory information concerning disaster victims who have been admitted to or treated at University Health System after reasonable effort to notify next-of-kin has been made.

Deceased Patients

University Health System will provide identifying information concerning deceased patients after next-of-kin has been notified.

Specific Situations

Dead on Arrival. DOA information is not released to the news media until notification of next-of-kin has been verified. We may verify that we have a DOA of an age and gender, along with the location of the accident.

Rape. Alleged rape victims may never be identified as such. Inquiries will be referred to the law enforcement agency involved. The same principle applies to suspected child abuse and child sexual abuse cases.

Suicide or Attempted Suicide. The term "suicide" is a determination not ours to make. We may report a patient condition and the nature of the injury or illness, but never indicate the suspicion of attempted or completed suicide.

Intoxication, Overdoses and Poisoning. The circumstances surrounding injury or illness cannot be disclosed. Substances involved can only be named by the patient's physician.

Organ Transplants. Organ transplant patients or their families and their attending physician need to give consent before information about the transplant can be released.

Criminal Suspects. The media should call the San Antonio Police Department public information office at 210-207-7579 to make media inquiries about suspects admitted or treated at University Health System facilities.

Inmates. Information about inmates should be referred to the law enforcement agency involved.

Psychiatric Patients. By law, the University Health System cannot acknowledge the presence of a psychiatric patient.