The care and privacy of our patients is of utmost importance to Bozeman Health.
Bozeman Health adheres to all regulations and standards governed by the
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regarding
the use and release of a patient’s protected health information
(PHI). For more information on HIPAA or PHI, visit
American Hospital Association provides guidance on the release of patient information:
Patient condition may be provided consistent with the limitations imposed by the HIPAA privacy
standards. The HIPAA privacy regulations have specific provisions for
the release of limited information about a patient without the patient's
authorization when someone specifically asks about the patient by name.
Unless a patient objects, the following information may be placed in a
- The patient's name
- The patient's location in the health care provider's facility
- The patient's condition, described in general terms that do not communicate
specific information about the individual
Should a member of the media, a family member, friend or individual make
an inquiry as to the condition of a patient, the following guidelines,
provided by the
American Hospital Association, will be followed:
If an inquiry is made using the patient’s name, general condition
information may be provided that does not communicate specific information
about the individual. One-word descriptions of a patient's general condition
will be given:
- Undetermined: Patient awaiting physician 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.
A patient’s location within Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital or
Bozeman Health Big Sky Medical Center will not be given to members of
There are times when a member of the media, a family member or friend may
have the name of a patient they believe to be in our care. A requestor
may be told that the patient in question is not in our system and therefore,
Bozeman Health is unable to provide any information. This typically occurs when:
- The patient, or their designated representative, has requested that they
be marked “confidential,” meaning that they do not wish to
have any information shared
- The patient was not admitted
- The patient was treated and transferred to another facility
- The patient was treated and released
- The patient refused medical attention
Bozeman Health reports any death of a patient to the authorities as required
by law. Typically, public information about a death will be disclosed
after efforts have been made to notify the next-of-kin. Information about
the cause of death must come from the patient's physician, and a legal
representative of the deceased must approve its release. This means that
Bozeman Health cannot share information with the media on the specifics
about sudden, violent or accidental deaths, or deaths from natural causes,
without the permission of the decedent’s next-of-kin or other legal
Police reports and other information about hospital patients are often
obtained by members of the media. The claim is frequently made that once
information about a patient is in the public domain, the media is entitled
to any and all information about that individual. This is not true. Health
care providers are required to observe the general prohibitions against
releasing health information about patients that are found in the HIPAA
privacy standards, state statutes or regulations, and the common law,
regardless of what information is in the hands of public agencies or the
public in general.
For additional information on HIPAA, PHI, and patient condition reports, visit
*Content taken from the American Hospital Association.