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Patient Information and the Media

Patient Privacy
Harris Health has an obligation to protect and maintain the privacy and confidentiality of a patient’s healthcare information. News inquiries regarding patients must be directed to Corporate Communications (713-566-6430). Directory information, including a one-word condition descriptor, may be released for adult patients without specific written authorization by the patient, unless the information is protected by state or federal law or the patient requests that no information be released.

Directory Information
A member of the news media must have a patient’s full (first and last) name to receive directory information, which is limited to a one-word condition descriptor: Good, Fair, Serious, Critical, Undetermined or Death.
  • ​GOOD: Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. The patient is conscious and comfortable (indicators are excellent).
  • FAIR: Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. The patient is conscious and comfortable (indicators are favorable).
  • SERIOUS: Vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits. Patient is acutely ill (indicators are questionable).
  • CRITICAL: Vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits. The patient may be unconscious (indicators are unfavorable).
  • UNDETERMINED: Status is pending diagnostic results, physician's examination or outcome of surgery.
  • DEATH: No confirmation of death is permitted unless next of kin has been notified.
No-Information Patients
Patients or their decision-makers have the right to opt for "no information" status regarding their care. If a patient has selected this designation, they will not be listed in our patient directory and their presence in our facility may not be acknowledged by staff.

Additionally, patients being treated for psychiatric or mental health concerns, or as a result of sexual assault, attempted suicide, child or domestic abuse will be designated as "no information." 

Harris Health will not release facility directory information regarding a minor without the written consent of a parent or legal guardian, unless Texas or federal law requires such release. A minor is an individual 17 years of age or younger who is not legally emancipated.

Deceased Patients
The death of a patient is considered to be a “patient condition” and may be disclosed with the one-word descriptor “Death” if the inquiry provides the patient’s name and it is included in the patient directory.

State and federal privacy protections continue to apply to a patient’s medical information even after a patient’s death. No additional information may be released unless it is authorized in writing by the patient’s legally authorized representative (LAR): an individual with legal standing to represent the interests of another (e.g., parent of a minor patient) or with the authority to act on behalf of another (as by legal power of attorney when applicable, medical power of attorney when the patient is incapacitated, court order, advance directive, or the executor of a will).