Montefiore Media Policy
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Montefiore Media Policy

OUR PRIMARY POLICY:

It is Montefiore Health System’s policy that all news media and production requests are referred to and coordinated by, the Public Relations department (PR). Associates cannot invite or allow media personnel into Montefiore facilities. If an associate speaks at an off-site conference or event with media present, Montefiore PR should be alerted as soon as possible so they can advise, fact-check, and track any resulting story.

It is also our policy that a PR team member is either on the phone or in-person during every interview that takes place regarding Montefiore staff, patients, services, or programs.

These policies are in place to ensure that privacy laws are not violated, and that reporters receive information in a consistent and efficient manner.

HOW TO CONTACT PUBLIC RELATIONS:

The PR office is located at 3321 Rochambeau Avenue, 1st floor, and is staffed from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday.

PR staff is available on call, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can be reached after hours through the page operator  at 718-920-8282 or 920-4011.

If you see unaccompanied reporters, TV cameras or photographers, contact security immediately at extension 5668 with a description and location.

PATIENT PRIVACY AND THE MEDIA

What is HIPAA?

HIPPA is a federal regulation in place to protect the confidentiality of protected patient health information (PHI). It is NEVER ok to share protected health information with any member of the media without express approval from PR. HIPAA concerns come up frequently, as reporters often ask for “real-life” examples of care.

What kind of information counts as PHI (protected health information)?
PHI includes any information about a specific patient’s health, or a patient’s behavior. Among other information that may include:

  • a patient’s name or specific identifying information
    • ex: “John Smith” or “the patient in room 172”
  • general or specific examples of patient behavior in the hospital
    • ex: “he always smiled at me’; “he had many visitors”; “she didn’t eat much”
  • a patient’s specific illness or diagnoses
    • ex: “type II diabetes”; “the flu”
  • general or specific descriptions of a patient’s symptoms
    • ex: “high blood pressure”; “temperature of 102 F”; “coughing”

What if a patient has died?
HIPAA does NOT become void after someone dies. Protections stay intact for 50 years after death, at which point an executor or family member may decide whether to disclose PHI.

When can PHI be disclosed?
PHI can only be provided to media ONLY if cleared by Montefiore PR. It is the responsibility of PR to determine if patients would be appropriate to speak with a reporter, and to confirm that the patient is comfortable speaking with a reporter. Montefiore PR also ensures a written HIPAA authorization is in place.

What if a reporter promises to use blurring or other techniques to mask identities?
It does not make a difference. Even with these techniques a written HIPAA authorization would be required, because the privacy rule does not allow media access to patient PHI in the first place.

ADDITIONAL MONTEFIORE MEDIA POLICIES FOR ALL ASSOCIATES

  • Montefiore associates are not permitted to invite or allow media personnel, including film crews, to Montefiore facilities, or discuss patient health information with media without the presence, and prior preparation from Montefiore PR.

Associates are never permitted to access the electronic medical records of patients who have been mentioned in the media or who are newsworthy as the result of their condition or status.

APPENDIX:

The following information and policies are included for informational purposes only. They apply specifically to Montefiore Public Relations staff.

INFORMATION THAT MAY BE RELEASED BY MONTEFIORE PR:

Overview:
Information about an inpatient, outpatient or emergency department patient’s general condition may be released by Public Relations to the media by Montefiore PR if the inquiry specifically identifies the patient by name.

Information may not be given if a request does not include a specific patient’s name or if the patient requests that the information not be released. This includes patients brought to the hospital by the police and fire departments.
Guidelines used by Montefiore PR in releasing general patient conditions
As long as a patient has not requested that information be withheld, PR may release the patient’s one-word condition, based on a medical determination of one of the following:

Definitions:

  • 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.
  • Death - If a patient has not specifically prohibited information from being given out, the PR representative for Montefiore may respond to the media that the patient has died, but may not provide the media with the date, time or cause of death. Authorization must be obtained from a personal representative of the deceased before any additional information about a deceased patient may be released.
  • Location - A patient’s location in the hospital will never be given to the media. The fact that the person has been treated and released or discharged may be released to the media, but only if the patient is asked for by name. We will never disclose when, or to where, a patient has been released.

PROCEDURES FOR MEDIA CONSENT FORMS FOR PATIENTS USED BY MONTEFIORE PR:

For all patients, permission to interview or photograph must be given by using the Montefiore Legal Department-approved media consent form before any questions are asked, or film, videotape or still cameras are used.

Photographs:

Permission for the media to photograph a patient may be given by PR only if:

  1. the doctor considers that the patient’s condition will not be jeopardized;
  2. the patient is willing to be photographed and gives permission in writing on a Montefiore consent form; and,
  3. in the case of a minor, the parents or legal guardian give their written consent.

Interviews:

Reporters may be permitted by PR to interview a patient if:

  1. the patient is willing to be interviewed;
  2. the patient or parent signs a consent form; and,
  3. in the physician’s opinion, the patient’s condition permits.

 Media contact through social media please review the Social Media Policy VII-18.