At Mercy Medical Center — Des Moines, we are committed to a cooperative relationship with the news media. We understand the 24-hour news cycle and have developed a series of processes to assist you, while ensuring that you receive information that is timely, accurate, complete and concise.
Mercy Media Relations Staff is Available 24/7
To meet the needs of today’s news cycle, Mercy has established a 24-hour on-call system.
- Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.: call (515) 247-3050.
- After hours on-call at (515) 229-1546.
Mercy’s goal is to work with the media in the gathering and reporting of information. Due to HIPAA confidentially requirements, media must have a Mercy Public Relations (PR) and Marketing escort at all times when they are in a Mercy facility or campus. The links below detail Mercy's newsgathering policies. For more information, contact Mercy Media Relations staff at (515) 490-6636.
The media can expect the following terms to be used to describe a patient’s physical condition. These standard descriptions were developed and are used by the Des Moines hospital community. The term "stable," by itself, is not a patient condition. Mercy does not validate condition assessments provided by law enforcement.
- Good - Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. The patient is conscious and comfortable. Indicators are excellent.
- Fair - Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. The patient is conscious but may be uncomfortable. Indicators are favorable.
- Serious - Vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits. The patient is acutely ill. Indicators are questionable.
- Critical - Vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits. The patient may be unconscious. Indicators are unfavorable.
- Deceased - This condition is released only if the patient is still in the facility and all of their next of kin have been notified. All information pertaining to cause of death must come from the Medical Examiner. Reporters will be directed to call the Medical Examiner’s office directly for this information.
- Treated and released - Patient has received treatment, but was not admitted.
- Treated and transferred - The patient was treated and transferred to another facility. The location of the facility cannot be released without patient consent.
- Unavailable - Used when a patient has just arrived or is undergoing a medical procedure such as an X-ray, CT scan, surgery etc. Media should not assume "unavailable" means the patient's condition is a worst case outcome or death.
HIPAA and the Media
The release of information about a patient and his/her physical condition and care is regulated by Iowa and Federal Laws. Additionally, Iowa law prohibits the release of any information about patients receiving behavioral care services.
The Federal Health Insurance Portability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) prohibits the release of any Personal Health Information (PHI) without patient consent, including:
- Medical condition
- Photographic image
Depending on a patient’s medical condition, acquiring such a consent may not be immediately possible. The nature of a patient’s injuries, or medical treatment being provided, can impact a patient’s decision-making capability and delay the release of information. If the patient is a minor, or unable to make an informed decision about his/her PHI, a family member, designated individual or member of medical staff can make that decision. No information will be released about patients who are unable to make informed decisions until a family member or designated individual arrives to make that decision on behalf of the patient.
A HIPAA consent can be revoked at any time by the patient, family member or designated individual acting for the patient.