Skip to main content

Patient information guidelines for media

Protecting the privacy and confidentiality of patients and patient information is a primary responsibility of Marketing & Communications.

Federal regulations have changed the way we report patient information to the media. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) establishes privacy standards that protect the kind of information we can provide about hospital patients.

Under the law, individuals entering our hospital for any kind of treatment have an opportunity to opt in or opt out of the patient directory.

If they "opt in," Geisinger will release a one-word condition (see below) about a patient's status upon request from the media. The reporter must provide the patient's first and last name.

If the patient "opts out," or if you do not provide a first and last name, no information can be given. In this case, HIPAA will not even allow us to acknowledge that the patient is or was at our facility.

Patient condition definitions 

  • Undetermined: Patient is awaiting evaluation by a physician.
  • 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.
  • Treated and Released: Received treatment, but was not admitted.
  • Treated and Transferred: Treated and transferred to another facility. We may not disclose where the patient has been transferred.

Note: "Stable" is not a recognized condition.

How to contact us

If you are a member of the media seeking a patient condition or another urgent matter:

  • During regular business hours, contact our Media Relations staff by phone or email. 
  • After 5 p.m. weekdays, on weekends or on holidays, call the hospital and ask to speak with the on-call media relations team member.