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Media Guidelines

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The first responsibility of Cook Children's is to protect the health, legal rights and general welfare of our patients and their families. Patients have specific legal rights to privacy concerning medical information as governed by several federal and state laws, as well as standards set forth by The Joint Commission.

A patient's parents or legal guardians must give written permission prior to an interview or photo. The interview may not be granted if it might interfere with the patient's care, or the care of other patients, if discretionary action by Cook Children's is deemed advisable, or if a crisis/disaster requires that the interview be declined.

General guidelines

  • All contact by the media must be made through the Cook Children's Public Relations department.
  • Authorization is required for videotaping, photographing and/or interviewing patients or employees at any Cook Children's facility. The Public Relations team will work with the media to obtain permission on a case-by-case basis.
  • A member of the Public Relations team must escort the media, professional photographers or videographers at Cook Children's facilities at all times.
  • A Public Relations staff member will be present during all interviews conducted within or about Cook Children's. Written permission is required from patients' parents or legal guardians prior to interviews or photos.
  • Reporters are asked to please refer to us as Cook Children's (NEVER Cook's, Cook, or Cook's Hospital).
  • At Cook Children's Medical Center, media is not allowed to interview, record, photograph or video on patient floors with the exception of patient play rooms.

Condition reports

The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) states that a parent or guardian must give permission, in writing, to release information about his or her hospitalized child. Once written consent has been established, the following guidelines apply:

  • Requests for condition updates require media to provide the patient's full name and age.
  • The information released will be limited to a one-word condition:
    • GOOD – Vital signs (respiration, pulse, temperature) within normal limits and stable; patient is conscious, comfortable; indicators excellent.
    • FAIR – Vital signs may be unstable, not within normal limits. Patient may be unconscious; indicators favorable.
    • SERIOUS – Vital signs may be unstable and not within normal limits, patient acutely ill; indicators not favorable.
    • CRITICAL – Vital signs may be unstable and not within normal limits, patients may not be conscious; indicators not favorable.
    • UNCONSCIOUS – Patient was unconscious upon arrival.
    • DECEASED – Coroners, medical examiners or law enforcement officials are the best sources of information about deaths. Death is usually public record and may be announced after next-of-kin have been notified or after a reasonable amount of time.

Special cases

Patient information related to chemical dependency, alleged abuse, attempted suicide or psychiatric cases will never be provided, nor will Cook Children's comment on circumstances leading to a patient's hospitalization.

Information on situations involved in litigation will not be released.

Law enforcement officials, Child Protective Services (CPS) and parents or guardians may ask that no information be released about a child.

Cook Children's officials cannot confirm or deny that a "no-information patient" is located at our facility, nor can we provide condition reports. In these cases, we work closely with CPS and public officials to be as cooperative as possible.

When a patient (or his/her parent or guardian) is a celebrity or prominent person, Public Relations representatives will issue periodic statements in cooperation with the patient's family, physician and nursing/clinical staff.

No information is available about former patients without written permission from a parent or guardian.

Photography/videotaping

Cook Children's patients at medical center events will sign a consent form to be photographed. All requests by media representatives for patient photography/video must be authorized by the Cook Children's Public Relations team.

During live shots at the medical center, please position live trucks and cameras on the west side of the medical center at 7th and Cooper. A representative from Cook Children's will be nearby for live shots. The exception will be after-hours live shots; however, Cook Children's security will be notified of the media's scheduled arrival.

Cook Children's and Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital own 6th Street between Pruitt and Terrell (where the emergency entrance is located), which includes the sidewalk. No photography should be taken on that street unless you have permission.