University Health Care System
(706) 722-9011

Policy Documents

Media Relations Policy

  • All contact with the news media on behalf of the University Health Care System or any of its subsidiaries, including responding to media inquiries, sponsorship requests, trade agreements, news stories, feature stories, talk shows, informal meetings, special events coverage, public service announcements, community calendars, press releases, etc., are to be coordinated through the Corporate Communications Department.
  • Authorized spokespeople will be designated by the President/CEO of UHCS in cooperation with Corporate Communications.  These designated spokespeople are the only individuals authorized to speak on behalf of UHCS or any of its affiliates.  This includes letters to the editor and guest editorials that directly or indirectly represent or reflect upon the system and its various entities.
  • Services the Corporate Communications Department will offer:
    • Gathering the appropriate background information for the reporter.
    • Checking facts.
    • Assisting the spokesperson with the development of essential messages consistent with the organization's mission, business plan, communications plans and position on issues.
    • Preparing the spokesperson for the interview.
    • Providing appropriate background and follow-up information to the reporter.
    • Greeting the reporters when they arrive, overseeing equipment set-up, monitoring and recording the interview, following up with the reporter to find out publication date of th story, obtaining and archiving a copy of the finished story once printed/broadcast.
    • Obtaining signed consent form if patient(s) or visitors will be interviewed and/or photographed.

Condition Report Policy

Hospital Spokesperson: The Corporate Communications Department will designate a hospital spokesperson for the release of patient condition reports to the news media at all times.  This person will be available by hospital pager after hours, weekends and holidays.  The hospital spokesperson will obtain patient information and release information to the news media according to this policy.

Inquiries that 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 to the news media 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.

Release of patient's general condition and location: As long as the patient has not requested that information be withheld, the hospital spokesperson may release the patient's one-word condition and location to the news media who inquire about the patient by name without obtaining prior patient authorization.

Condition Reports: For the one-word condition, use the terms "undetermined," "good," "fair," "serious" or "critical."  Definitions of patient condition are listed below:

  • Undetermined - Patient is awaiting physician and/or assessment.
  • 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 patient: The hospital spokesperson will not advise the news media that a patient is deceased until next-of-kin have been contacted.  Nor will he/she disclose information regarding the date, time or cause of death without authorization from a personal representative of the deceased.

Patient location and hospital access: A patient's location should not be given to the media without the patient's permission.  Nor should the hospital enable the media to contact patients directly.  Instead, the hospital spokesperson should handle all media interviews and calls.  The patient's clinician or the House Supervisor may deny the media access to a patient if the hospital determines that the presence of photographers or reporters would aggravate the patient's condition or interfere with patient care.

The hospital spokesperson or another designated hospital representative should accompany the media at all times when they are in the hospital.

Patients who are treated and released: The hospital spokesperson may disclose to the news media who ask for the patient by name that a patient was treated and released because this only provides the patient's general condition (that they were treated at the hospital) and the patient's location (that the patient is no longer at the hospital).  No specific health information may be provided.  The hospital may not release information regarding the date of release or where the patient went upon release without patient authorization.

For more information about University's Condition Report Policy, please contact Corporate Communications.

Photography, videotaping and interview authorization for the News Media and promotional purposes

  • Patients, former patients and/or their family members may not be photographed, videotaped or interviewed by employees or agents of University Hospital or the news media for non-treatment/non-operations related reasons without a completed Photography, Videotaping and Interview Authorization form signed by the person being interviewed, videotaped, or photographed (subject) or authorized agent.
  • Photographing, videotaping and/or interviewing a patient in the hospital should never interfere with the patient's care or treatment and should be approved by the nurse or physician directing the patient's care at the time of the activity.
  • Outside photographers and members of the news media should always be accompanied within the hospital by a representative from the Corporate Communications Department.  (See Policy F-10, Release of Information on the Condition of Patients to the News Media.)
  • Individuals being photographed, videotaped or interviewed will be fully advised as to the purpose of the activity, use of the product, ownership of the product and revocability of their decision.

Corporate graphic standards

  • Outside Parties (Consultants, Vendors and Contractors): All applications of a University logo by an outside party are subject to review and approval by the Corporate Communications Department.  This requirement includes sponsorship recognition and complimentary advertising/promotion. PLEASE NOTE: The exception to this rule is when University logos are used solely for internal presentation purposes. For more information about logo usage, or to gain approval for usage, please contact Corporate Communications.
  • Basic Guidelines: Avoid distortion or changing University logos in any way.  Distorting the logo when resizing, adding anything to the logo or eliminating anything from the logo is strictly forbidden.
  • Approval: The Corporate Communications Department must approve all external communication, including all advertising, printed materials, Web site applications, electronic media, signage and specialty items.

Reviewed: 1-27-10
Updated: 11-4-09

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1350 Walton Way, Augusta, Georgia
(706) 722-9011