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University Health

Media Guidelines

Media Guidelines

Corporate Communications & Marketing of University Health 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 Patient Placement Center at 210-743-3100.

Inquiries considered sensitive or difficult that occur after hours on weekends will be referred to the Corporate Communications staff. The Patient Placement Center maintains a home phone call roster of Corporate Communications staff on-call.

General rules for news coverage

  • On-duty reporters/photographers in University Health facilities must coordinate their visit in advance with a member of the Corporate Communication staff and be accompanied by an employee at all times. Reporters and photographers not escorted by an employee will be immediately removed from the building.
  • Media will be granted access to public meetings at University Health facilities. A Corporate Communications staff member may be present at public meetings in which a media representative is present.
  • Videotaping and interviewing without Corporate Communications involvement is permitted outside of University Health buildings. But the media will be asked to leave the premises if found to be interfering with patient care or routine health care business.
  • News vehicles may not park in fire lanes or block driveways. Special parking may be granted by University Health security personnel if available near the hospital entrance or at other facilities.
  • Patient consent will be secured prior to any reporting, videotaping or photographing.

Policy Summary

University Health 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. Inquiries regarding patients must be directed to the proper person defined in this policy. Directory information, including condition, may 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 will not release any information regarding a minor without a written consent of the parent or legal guardian.

Disasters

In the case of a disaster, University Health has a responsibility to keep the public informed while maintaining the privacy rights of patients. Laws governing the release of patient information to the media do not change in disaster situations. A reporter must have the patient’s name before any individually identified information can be released to the media, and only the patient’s general condition can be released.

In the case of disaster, a member of the Corporate Communications staff will be available to the news media at all times, either in person or by telephone or other electronic communications. All efforts will be made to provide current information to the media as soon as possible.

University Health may tell the media the number of patients brought to the facility by gender or age group, and the general cause of their treatment needs (explosion, weather events, etc.) as long as it is not identifiable to a specific patient.

Deceased Patients

State and federal privacy protections continue to apply to a patient’s medical information even after the patient’s death. No information may be released unless the request contains the patient’s name and date of birth.

The death of a patient is considered to be a “patient condition” and may legally be disclosed with the one-word description “deceased,” if the inquiry contains the patient’s name. University Health will verify that the patient’s family has first been notified and does not object to the disclosure.

Specific Situations

Inquiries involving the presence at a University Health facility or the medical condition of criminal suspects or inmates should be directed to the law enforcement agency involved.

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


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