Patient Condition Updates

The Northwestern Memorial HealthCare Media Relations Department provides patient conditions to members of the media only as allowed by federal and state privacy laws. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)* protects the privacy of a person’s individually identifiable health information.  Our FIRST responsibility is to protect the confidentiality, health and legal rights of each and every Northwestern Medicine patient. 

Northwestern Memorial HealthCare (NMHC) may, at its discretion, release general information in response to a media request, provided that the media are able to provide the patient’s full name. Absolutely no patient information will be released without a patient name. Absent specific written authorization from the patient, NMHC will release only a one-word condition to members of the media. One-word condition updates are defined below.

  • Undetermined: Patient is awaiting 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

Information will not be released when:

  • A patient requests that no information is released
  • A patient opts out of the hospital directory
  • The person is a psychiatric patient
  • The patient is a minor 
  • Release of information is determined to be harmful to the patient’s care 
Only members of the Media Relations team are authorized to provide patient conditions. To request a condition update for a patient, please call the Media Relations Department at 312.926.7432 and be prepared to provide the patient’s full name. 

The Media Relations Department hours of operation are:
Monday–Friday: 8:30 am–5:00 pm
After hours, please call 312.926.2000 and ask the operator to have the on-call Media Relations representative paged.

The Northwestern Memorial HealthCare Media Relations team will not confirm deaths for the media. For information regarding a Medical Examiner's case, please contact the appropriate local authority:

Northwestern Memorial HealthCare Media Guidelines require that any working journalist or photographer who is in the hospital must be escorted by a member of the Media Relations staff at all times. When covering news outside of business hours, please contact Media Relations prior to arriving at the hospital or outpatient location for after hours assistance.

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