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Frequently Asked Questions

Disclosure of Inpatient Location Information Policy
 
1. Why has Eastern Health implemented the Disclosure of Inpatient Location Information Policy?
 
Eastern Health has always been committed to patient privacy and confidentiality. This is another step forward in its ongoing efforts to help ensure the privacy and confidentiality of its patients.

2. When and where will the policy be implemented?

Eastern Health first introduced this policy at two major acute care sites – St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital and the Health Sciences Centre on November 26, 2012, as these sites have the highest volume of inpatients. The policy was next implemented at the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre and the Carbonear General Hospital on May 5, 2014. Eastern Health will implement the policy at the other acute care facilities throughout the region during 2014.

3. What will the policy mean for individuals being admitted to an acute care facility?


This policy will allow a patient to take control of the disclosure of information about his or her inpatient status while staying in our acute care hospitals. Under the policy, patients will be given the option during the admitting/registration process to choose whether or not they want information about their inpatient status and location available to members of the general public.

The question about privacy will also be on the hospital admission form which is signed by the patient. If a person chooses to keep their inpatient location and status private, the Reception/Patient Information/Switchboard will not have any information in their computer about that individual. Therefore, if someone calls the switchboard inquiring about a patient, the receptionist/operator will simply advise that they do not have any information on that person.

It will not be possible to maintain a list of people that patients wish to inform about their status and another list they do not wish to inform. If you choose to have your inpatient status kept private upon admission, it will be kept private from all callers. It is an all or none choice.
 
 
4. Can patients change their minds after they have been admitted to hospital?
 
Yes.  If a patient decides that they no longer want to keep their admission status and location private they can contact the Admitting/Registration Department and the change will be made.
 
5. How did Eastern Health handle public inquiries about inpatient status in the past?

In the past, for the most part if a patient did not want visitors, this request was handled on the inpatient nursing unit.  However, anyone could call a hospital and request the room number of an inpatient, unless the patient had initiated a request that the information not be provided.  Previously, the option to have inpatient status and location remain private was not offered during the admitting process.

6. What happens if someone is brought to the Emergency Department and does not go through the normal admitting process?

Most individuals would not want their inpatient status to remain private in the event of an emergency situation. If patients are brought to emergency, concerned family members may be looking for them and/or seeking information. In this case, a person’s inpatient status will not be listed as private and confidential.
 

8.   How will the policy affect staff on inpatient units?

This privacy initiative will not override the current nursing unit procedure to share inpatient status and progress with designated family or friends. When patients are admitted to a unit, staff members will ask with whom their information should be shared and will provide information accordingly. If someone who is not on the designated list calls the unit, the staff will explain that they cannot share information, and the caller will be advised to call the switchboard – or to contact the family.

9. Who will monitor the policy?
 
Eastern Health’s Access and Privacy Office will work closely with the admitting/registration staff as well as nursing units to ensure policy compliance and effectiveness. 

10. What is the connection between this policy and the Provincial Government’s Personal Health Information Act?


The act requires that, except in limited circumstances, regional health authorities only collect, use and disclose an individual’s personal health information with the consent of the individual. This policy puts the decision about inpatient location and status in the hands of the patient during the admitting process. Patients will know up front that they have the right to decide whether or not this information about their stay in hospital will be released to a member of the general public.

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Updated Feb 23, 2018