Summa Health System’s first responsibility is to the health and welfare of the patient. The patient has specific legal rights to privacy. The patient’s medical records by law are private and confidential. The medical records are subject to release only with the permission and written authorization of the patient or patient’s legal representative or as required by law.
Directory information will be released to the media after a patient has been given the opportunity to review and chooses not to restrict directory information, providing the request includes the patient’s name. Directory information may be delayed or unavailable for an emergency or unconscious patient.
Condition of Patient
Only a physician can determine the patient’s diagnosis and/or prognosis. Most physicians in hospitals use the following terms to describe a patient’s condition.
Undetermined – Patient is currently being evaluated.
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.
Deceased/Coroners Case – The death of a patient, while considered a matter of public record under Ohio law, is considered protected health information under HIPAA. Thus, the condition of death may be released for expired patients who have not opted out of the directory. However Summa will first notify the next of kin or make a reasonable attempt to do so. Information regarding the cause of death must come from the patient’s physician, and its release must be approved by a legal representative of the deceased.
When a death is investigated by the county coroner, questions about the cause of death should be addressed to that public office.
- Information provided by the Akron Regional Hospital Association Media Guide for Hospitals in Northeast Central Ohio