The marketing and communications department oversees all
public/community/media relations, marketing and hospital planning for
Merrimack Valley Hospital. We welcome media inquiries.
All media inquiries should be directed to Jean MacDougall-Tattan.
To protect patient privacy and confidentiality (see HIPAA guidelines
below) and to accommodate requests for interviews and information about
the hospital, its staff, employees and programs and services in a timely
and accurate manner, Merrimack Valley Hospital asks members of the media
to follow these guidelines:
All requests for patient conditions must go through Jean
While on hospital property, all media representatives must be
accompanied by a public affairs and marketing representative at
Anyone entering the hospital with a recording device or camera
(still or video) must be accompanied by a public affairs and
All requests to record, videotape or film must be made in
advance by calling Public Affairs.
All patients who agree to be interviewed, photographed or
videotaped on hospital property for any reason must provide
written consent to the public affairs and marketing office. Only
patients who give this consent may be interviewed, photographed,
HIPAA Guidelines for Releasing
Information on the Condition of Patients
Merrimack Valley Hospital has always placed the highest
importance on patient privacy and confidentiality. The implementation of
the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
in 2003 has not substantially changed our policies and procedures in
releasing patient information, but does ensure that all health care
institutions follow the same guidelines to safeguard privacy and
In general, information about a patient may be released if it is
included in the hospital's directory. Patients are given the opportunity
to refuse inclusion in that directory.
Specifically, Merrimack Valley Hospital uses the following American
Hospital Association guidelines for release of patient information to
the public and the media:
Inquiries must identify the patient by name -- Information about
the patient's general condition and location of an inpatient,
outpatient or emergency department patient may be released only
if the inquiry specifically identifies the patient by name. No
information may 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 inquiries from the
Release of patient's general condition and location -- As long
as the patient has not requested that information be withheld,
public affairs and marketing may release the patient's one-word
condition and location to individuals who inquire about the
patient by name, without obtaining prior patient authorization.
This includes inquiries from the media.
Patient condition information -- The public affairs and
marketing department releases all official patient information
to media. In keeping with the guidelines of the American
Hospital Association, we provide a one-word patient condition --
undetermined, good, fair, serious, or critical -- unless
otherwise instructed by the patient. Patient conditions are
defined in accordance with the following AHA standards:
Undetermined: Patient is awaiting 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.
Death of a Patient
The death of a patient may be reported to the authorities by the
hospital, as required by law. Under HIPAA, hospitals cannot share
information with the media on the specifics about sudden, violent or
accidental deaths, or deaths from natural causes without the permission
of the decedent's next-of-kin or other legal representative. A hospital
also may not disclose information regarding the date, time, or cause of
death to the media.
If a patient is treated and
If a patient has not specified that no information may be released, the
hospital may disclose that a patient was treated and released. However,
without patient authorization, it may not release information to the
media regarding the date of release or where the patient went upon
The hospital may release patient condition and location information only
the patient has not stated that he or she does not want
information released, including information confirming his or
her presence in the hospital.
in the hospital's professional judgment, releasing such
information would be in the patient's best interest.