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Release of Patient Information

Note to our patients and families

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health is committed to protecting your privacy and personal health information. Plus, it’s required by federal law. 

If someone calls seeking information about your condition or the condition of a family member while at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, we will release that information only if they provide the patient's first and last name. You, or the person authorized to give consent, have the right to opt out of providing information altogether.

For the press

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health complies with the strict patient-privacy guidelines established by the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996, which governs the type and amount of patient information that may be legally provided.

Conditions of adult patients can be provided only when:

  • The person making the inquiry about a patient provides the patient’s first and last names and the hospital the patient is located at
  • The patient is listed in the hospital directory (patients may choose not to be listed in the hospital directory)
  • The patient is at least 18 years old (no information is provided about patients under 18 without the written permission of the patient’s parent or guardian)

If the requirements provided above are met, then the patient condition classifications below will be used and have the following meanings:

  • The patient is awaiting a physician and medical assessment

  • The patient has been treated by the hospital and released; generally, this indicates the patient’s condition was satisfactory upon release

  • The patient was stabilized at the hospital and transferred to another facility for further care; we do not disclose where the patient was transferred

  • Vital signs such as heartbeat, breathing, blood pressure and temperature are stable and within normal limits; the patient is conscious and comfortable; indicators are good

  • Vital signs such as heartbeat, breathing, blood pressure and temperature are not within normal limits; the patient is acutely ill; indicators are questionable

  • Vital signs such as heartbeat, breathing, blood pressure, and temperature are unstable and not within normal limits; the patient may be unconscious; there is some doubt that the patient will recover; death could be imminent

  • The death of a patient can be disclosed to the public and news media only after the next of kin has been notified and the patient’s body is still in the hospital

  • If an adult patient has been released from the hospital and we receive a proper inquiry about the patient by name, we confirm that the patient is no longer in our care, but we do not give the release date, admission date, length of stay or other information

Prohibited or restricted patient information

  • Patient’s location in hospital. We may provide general information regarding an adult patient’s location in the hospital (emergency department, intensive care unit, etc.), but we do not provide the patient’s specific room or floor number.
  • Patients under 18 years of age. No information is provided about the health status of patients under 18 years old without the written permission of the patients’ parents or guardians.
  • Mental health patients. Virginia Mason Franciscan Health does not provide any information to the public or the news media regarding patients who are receiving mental health therapies.

Photography, videotaping and interviews with patients

Reporters and photographers may be granted permission to photograph, videotape and/or interview patients inside the hospital only after receiving permission from the Virginia Mason Franciscan Health media relations manager (Media Hotline: 253-382-3889). Arrangements will be made only if the patient is willing and his or her medical condition permits.

Members of the news media should not enter patient care areas without the hospital’s permission.

Additional resources

Please read the Washington State Hospital Association Guide for Cooperation for an explanation of the terms that are used to describe patient conditions and injuries, and for information about the federal laws that govern hospitals' release of patient information to media.

You may also contact the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association at 360-344-2938, or the Washington State Hospital Association at 206-281-7211.