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Releasing Patient Information to Media and the Public

Avera McKennan takes our patients' privacy very seriously. The South Dakota State Medical Association and South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations have created rules governing the release of patient information to the public and media. You can view this entire document by clicking the link below or read a brief overview of key information on this page.

View the full South Dakota Code of Cooperation guide.

Patient Condition Updates:

Call 605-322-8000 (24/7 Service)

If you are a media representative calling for a patient condition update, please identify yourself as a member of the media when you contact us.

Patient/Resident Conditions

HIPAA standards have established five one-word conditions reports which are meant to describe a patient or resident's current condition.

  • Undetermined: Patient or resident is awaiting physician and/or assessment.
  • Good: Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient or resident is conscious and comfortable. Indicators are excellent.
  • Fair: Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient or resident is conscious, but may be uncomfortable. Indicators are favorable.
  • Serious: Vital signs may be unstable and not within normal limits. Patient or resident is acutely ill. Indicators are questionable.
  • Critical: Vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits. Patient or resident may be unconscious. Indicators are unfavorable.

Clinicians find the "critical, but stable" term useful when discussing cases among themselves because it helps them differentiate patients or residents who are expected to recover from those whose prognosis is worse. But a critical condition means that at least some vital signs are unstable, so this is inherently contradictory. The term "stable" should not be used as a condition. Furthermore, this term should not be used in combination with other conditions, which by definition, often indicate a patient or resident is unstable.

Note: A prognosis will not be given to the media or the public, except by the patient or resident's physician with their consent.

Death: The death of a patient or resident may be reported to the authorities by the health care facility, as required by law. Any release of information to the public by the facility about a death will only be made following the notification of next-of-kin and upon receipt of a request about the specific patient or resident. Information about the cause of death must come from the patient's or resident's physician, and a legal representative of the deceased must approve its release.

Contact Us

If you have any questions please contact Avera McKennan's Marketing department at 605-322-7950.