In response to the Sun-Gazette's recent coverage, I would like to take this opportunity to clarify and present facts related to Susquehanna Health's new patient condition reporting procedure that enhances how we protect the privacy of our patients and their families. When someone is brought to any of our facilities and their situation is a matter of public record, such as a motor vehicle accident, we no longer provide the media with a one-word condition.
If you are a family member or friend, it stands to reason that you won't have to read the newspaper to find out how your loved one is doing; you will be actively visiting the patient and speaking with the nurses and doctors taking care of your loved one. According to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), patients who come to us that are victims of violent crime and also a matter of public record are automatically opted out so no hospital can release information about their conditions.
Obtaining patient condition information requires time of our nursing staff away from the bedside. Taking calls from our public relations staff and deciding upon the condition with other members of the care team, take the nurses away from their most important function which is to care for the patients.
Best practice studies have concluded that often patient conditions change by the time information appears in the media. Additional research has concluded that patients and their families overwhelmingly prefer their medical information not be made public.
Susquehanna Health did not make this decision overnight. Research was conducted among hospitals and across the state and United States. This is an industry trend. Susquehanna Health is among other hospitals such as University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), Pinnacle, Stanford Hospital, Lock Haven Hospital, Holy Redeemer and Meritus Medical Center to name a few.
While Susquehanna Health needs to work with the media to provide the public important and relevant medical information to our community, our top priority is to the safety and well being of our patients. It is critical that we keep our nurses and caregivers focused on their patients and to do all we can to preserve the privacy and confidentiality of those we serve.
Board Member, Susquehanna Health
Submitted by Virtual Newsroom