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5 steps to prevent a high-profile hospitalization from going public

By Katie Boyles

24084348_sFrom CEOs to entertainers, take steps to protect your privacy

People often believe that once a patient is in the public domain of a hospital, the media can access any information about the individual. This is not true. The American Hospital Association has guidelines for releasing patient information to the media.

When United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz was hospitalized after a heart attack, the media found out quickly. Once the news of Munoz’s hospitalization went public, United Airlines’ stock price dropped.

Your company could face a slew of negative effects if the media finds out that your high-level executive was admitted to the hospital. Here are five tips you need to know in order to take control of the situation before it takes control of you.

1. Know the facts. The American Hospital Association has guidelines that state that doctors can’t release your personal, specific, HIPPA-protected health information no matter what the rest of the world thinks it knows about you.

2. A patient must ask the hospital not to include his name and information in the hospital directory. If he does not, admissions staff will automatically list him there. If anyone calls asking for the person by name, the hospital can legally provide the caller with a cursory explanation of the patient’s condition.

3. The patient must also request that his religious affiliation not be included in the directory. This is important because a clergy member could access the patient unless the hospital had specific instructions to exclude such intrusions. That way, the hospital will not even inform clergy members of the person’s hospital stay.

4. If the patient is unconscious, someone else must take action to protect his privacy. The media is aware of its rights when it comes to gathering information. You must know how to ensure that you and your company’s key players are unlisted in the hospital directory.

5. Hire a PR firm. For the sake of your company’s high-level executives’ privacy, you need to have a plan in case of a health problem. Axia Public Relations knows how to take proactive measures and create an effective crisis-management plan.

Download our e-book Managing Public Relations in a Crisis to learn what steps to take and how to create a plan now for your company’s future.

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Katie Boyles is currently studying public relations at University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. She will graduate in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in communication.

Featured image credit: 123rf.com

Topics: public relations, crisis communications

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