Releasing Patient Conditions
Denver Health’s Media Relations staff works with local, national and international news media everyday. However, we have a duty and legal obligation to protect the privacy of our patients.
The following is a brief synopsis of Denver Health’s policy for communicating patient information to the media.
- No information beyond one-word condition updates can be released, unless a patient has authorized Denver Health to share more information.
- These condition updates must come from a public relations representative of Denver Health. Please be aware that other staff members are not authorized to provide patient updates to the media.
- At any time, patients can elect to be protected under confidentiality rules. In this case, we cannot give out any information.
- You MUST provide the patient’s full name (descriptions of the injuries and location, etc. are not sufficient).
- Condition updates cannot be given for minors unless their parents/guardians have signed an authorization.
- Conditions for patients who may be in police custody cannot be given by Denver Health.
- Conditions for sexual assault victims will not be given out.
- Conditions for patients who were involved in suicide attempts will not be given out.
Standard Patient Condition Definitions
The standard definitions of the one-word descriptions the public relations department can release are as follows:
- Undetermined: The patient is awaiting an assessment.
- Good: Vital signs, such as pulse, temperature and blood pressure are stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious and comfortable. Outlook for recovery is good or excellent.
- Fair: Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious. Patient is uncomfortable or may have minor complications. Favorable outlook.
- Serious: Acutely ill with questionable outlook. Vital signs may be unstable or not within normal limits. A chance for improved outlook.
- Critical: Questionable outlook. Vital signs are unstable or not within normal limits. There are major complications; death may be imminent.
- Deaths: Confirmation will be withheld until the next of kin has been notified or after a reasonable time has passed. A hospital may not disclose information regarding the date, time or cause of death. Information regarding cause of death comes from the coroner in most cases. In Colorado, death certificates are not public record.