Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC) may provide information to legitimate representatives of print, radio, online and television news services upon request, in accordance with CAMC policies and applicable state and federal law. The primary point of contact for media inquiries is CAMC marketing and public affairs.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) limits a hospital's ability to release patient information. The hospital's first responsibility is to protect the safety and privacy of patients.
HIPAA generally prevents the hospital, physicians and other health care providers from disclosing any protected health information (PHI) about a patient without the patient's prior consent. PHI includes any information about a patient's health, health care or payment, including the patient's condition, treatment or facts about their health care.
HIPAA does allow the hospital to disclose to the media certain limited information from the hospital's census, unless the patient objects. Under this limited exception, the hospital may only disclose the following information if the media representative asks for the patient by first and last name: whether the patient is in the hospital, and a one-word description of the patient's general condition.
No further information will be released without the written authorization of the patient or his/her legal representative.
Hospitals and others can face serious penalties for using or disclosing protected health information about their patients without proper permission.
CAMC operators and marketing representatives do not have access to patient conditions via computer. Families have a dedicated PIN to check on loved ones. Media inquiring about a patient who is the victim of a crime should contact law enforcement for changes in condition.
Media representatives wishing to interview a patient should call the public relations specialist at (304) 388-5766 (Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.). If after-hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to the hospital operators ((304) 388-5432) who will page the marketing and public affairs representative on call.
If the patient agrees to a media interview, the public relations specialist or designee will coordinate with the patient and staff to be sure that the appropriate consent forms are signed before any media representatives arrive at the CAMC facility.
When arriving at CAMC, media representatives should report to the hospital lobby for escort to the patient's room by a marketing representative or designee.
Media representatives are not permitted to interview a patient, patient's family member, CAMC staff member or affiliated physician on CAMC property without prior permission of marketing and public affairs.
Media requests to interview CAMC staff members and employed physicians will be handled through CAMC marketing and public affairs. If the interview is to occur in-person on hospital property, media representatives must be escorted by marketing and public affairs or designee.
In a disaster or crisis, any release of information will be handled by CAMC marketing and public affairs. This includes both incidents occurring on CAMC property and information about patients received/treated by CAMC in an off-site disaster/crisis. Efforts will be made to update the media as quickly and fully as possible, pending availability of information and consent by the patient(s) or his/her legal representative(s).
Members of the media should follow CAMC on Twitter and Facebook for times CAMC needs to communicate urgent information to the media and/or public.