Hospital Worker? Direct Media Inquiries to Public Affairs

guest-blogger2Guest Blogger Zipporah Dvash – Assistant Vice President of Public Affairs and Development, Long Island College Hospital

Do you work in a hospital?  It seems like they’re are always in the news.  Remember that reporters don’t just speak to doctors and nurses – sometimes they wait for staff as they’re coming and going and aggressively demand answers to questions.  When, if ever, should you speak to a reporter?  Would you be violating patient confidentiality?  Can you be fired for speaking to the media without permission?  You’ll never go wrong if follow these Media Do’s and Don’ts below the fold.


  • Direct any reporter to the Public Affairs Department for answers to questions.
  • Report any incidence of contact by the media to Public Affairs.
  • If you are permitted to speak to the media about a case or a procedure, remember that nothing is ever off the record when speaking to the media.  Never make a statement to a reporter that you wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing with your colleagues and the general public.


  • Conduct any media interviews without the consent and presence of a representative of Public Affairs.
  • Answer any media inquiry regarding a patient’s condition or acknowledge the name of a patient unless cleared by Public Affairs and/or Administration.
  • Discuss patient cases by name or identifying information in public with your colleagues – anyone may be listening!

6 Responses to “Hospital Worker? Direct Media Inquiries to Public Affairs”

  1. Donna Atkins

    Typical examples of the media invading what people expect to be their private medical “sanctuary” are when Brittney Spears had her medical records exposed to the world due to employees who did not respect the sanctity of them and reacted to what purportedly were offerings of cash by certain unethical segments of the press. As medical professionals, it is incumbent upon us to respect HIPPA laws and all individuals’ privacy, no matter what the temptation may be to “leak” info.

  2. This is really interesting; I never thought of the consequences of talking to the media. Of course I wouldn’t share a patient’s personal information with 3rd parties because of my own standards, but could there be other consequences? Could I be taken to court? Do hospitals have Medical Assistants sign anything that prevents them from releasing information? Thanks!

  3. Zipporah Dvash

    You may not be asked to sign anything, but you will surely be instructed at orientation that requests from the media be directed to the Public Affairs office. If you work in a small facility without a designated Public Affairs Dept. inform your supervisor, instead – s/he will relate the request. Please note that most hospitals actively cooperate with the media. We just need to make sure that the patient’s right to privacy (including the perogative to “opt out” of a story) is protected at all times.

  4. Stephanie Reyes

    Instances such as these are the exact reasoning that laws like HIPAA have been created. Under no circumstance unless noted otherwise by law can a patients information be released by print or word. This statement may seem a little extreme but that is the simplest way that I interpret the laws of patient privacy and confidentiality. I think in a situation where you may be confronted by the media is just to direct them to public affairs or whoever will be the best to handle the situation. Sadly there are those individuals who allow themselves to be persuaded by the media and can cause may problems.

  5. natasha singleton

    In my opinion i feel there should be consequence when professional give out patient information it common since that when you speak to the media their nothing off the record that just to get you comfortable to tell it all i would suggest professional to guard patient personal as if it was their own maybe it would be less political drama if people would mind their business and manners

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