nurse walking pediatric heart patient down the hall

Guidelines for Sharing Patient Information at Children's

Condition and release of information

The Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta staff works to help ensure the privacy of our patients and their families. Media representatives are required to contact the Children’s public relations department before entering any of our facilities. In addition, requests for patient condition updates and staff interviews must be handled through a public relations representative (24-hour media line: 404-405-4539).

Releasing information to the media about Children’s patients

Children’s follows the American Hospital Association’s guidelines for releasing information to the media on the condition of patients. Hospitals and health systems are responsible for protecting the privacy and confidentiality of their patients and patient information. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) mandated regulations that govern privacy standards for healthcare information. HIPAA regulations specify the purposes for which information may and may not be released without authorization from the patient.

Media inquiries must contain the patient’s name. Information about the condition and location of an inpatient, outpatient or Emergency Department patient may be released only if the inquiry specifically contains the patient’s name. No information will be given if a request does not include a specific patient’s name.

Definitions of patient conditions

  • Undetermined: Patient awaiting physician and 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: The death of a patient is presumed to be a matter of record and may be reported after the next of kin and other appropriate family members (grandparents, divorced parents, etc.) have been notified. If the patient’s next of kin cannot be notified, no information will be released. Once the patient’s next of kin is notified, place and time of death will be released. Information regarding the cause of death must come from the patient’s physician, and its release must be approved by a member of the immediate family.

Source: American Hospital Association and Georgia Hospital Association