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Media Guidelines

Akron Children’s PR department handles all media calls. Not only is it our policy, it’s in a reporter’s best interest to channel inquiries through the PR office. Our media relations professionals are familiar with the media’s special needs and deadlines, and we work quickly to arrange interviews and gather background information and details. Calls made to others in the organization will be routed to our PR department.

Release of Patient Information

Our first responsibility is to the patient’s health and well-being. We have legal and ethical responsibilities to protect patient confidentiality. The patient has specific legal rights to privacy as governed by several federal and state laws, as well as standards set forth by the Joint Commission.

For example, the patient’s medical records are by law private and confidential. The medical records can only be released with the permission and written authorization of the patient (if 18 years or older), patient’s parents/legal guardian or as required by the court process.

The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) enforces even more privacy measures. HIPAA privacy regulations restrict the information healthcare providers may include in a patient directory and release to the public, including news media. Directory information, as it pertains to news media, is limited to 2 elements and patients have the option of further restricting release of the directory information. These are:

  • Name: Information can be released only to those who ask about patients by name.
  • Location within the hospital: Information can be released as long as it doesn’t reveal prohibited information, such as if the patient is being treated for a psychiatric problem.

Note: Unless the patient has exercised the “opt-out” provision, directory information about a particular patient can be shared with any person who asks for the patient by name.

While the HIPAA privacy regulations restrict the information we may release, patients (18 or older) or parents/legal guardians of patients (17 and under) are free to release their own personal information or to consent to interviews providing it doesn’t interfere with their medical treatment.

Releasing Information After Hours

A PR representative is always available. If you need to contact a media relations professional after normal business hours, call 330-543-1000 and ask the operator to page the on-call PR staff person. 

Gaining Access to Akron Children's

Media representatives and photographers must contact the PR department before visiting patients or staff for photos or interviews. We require a designated hospital representative accompany news personnel at all times. We will manage the written or verbal permission of the patient, or in the case of a minor, the parent or legal guardian, for photos and interviews.

We may deny media access to the patient if the presence of photographers or reporters would aggravate the patient’s condition or interfere with appropriate clinical care.

Matters of Public Record

Matters of public record refer to those situations that are by law reportable to public authorities, such as the police, coroner or public health officer. While laws and/or regulations require healthcare facilities to report a variety of information to public authorities, it is not the responsibility of facilities to provide that information in response to calls or other inquiries from the media or other parties, including law enforcement officials. Instead, such calls should be directed to the appropriate public authority.

Hospitals cannot release information for special cases such as: patients admitted for chemical dependency, attempted suicide, child abuse, psychiatric treatment or a domestic case. Information regarding a suspected suicide must be obtained from the coroner or medical examiner’s office.

Our spokespersons are also unable to release information in situations involved in litigation.

During a local disaster or emergency, communication regarding victims is coordinated by the PR department. 

What next?

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