Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (MDFR) is committed to working cooperatively with the news media to keep the public informed of MDFR activities and the incidents that might impact the health and safety of our community. However, protecting patient privacy is of paramount importance.
As an essential part of our dedication to excellence, MDFR maintains the privacy of all patient healthcare information, known as Protected Health Information (PHI). Effective April 14, 2003, we are required by federal law to protect the confidentiality of PHI and to provide all patients with a notice of our Patient Privacy Practices.
PHI is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The provisions set forth by this federal regulation specify how patient information may be released to the media. MDFR has the responsibility of telling patients that it can release general condition information, and to whom that information may be disclosed. Patients have the option of stating that they do not want information released at all, including confirmation of their treatment and/or transport by MDFR. If the patient requests that no information be released, MDFR must honor that request.
News Media Patient Information Requests
While MDFR's Media & Public Relations Bureau staff will always assist the media and other members of the public with all inquiries and requests for information, the following mandated policies should be kept in mind:
- MDFR cannot release the names or addresses of patients.
- MDFR cannot release the ages or genders of patients.
- MDFR cannot disclose specific medical information related to any medical or fire incidents.
- MDFR cannot disclose the name of the medical facility to which a patient is transported.
- MDFR cannot release information regarding treatment of victims or suspects involved in law enforcement incidents, including domestic disputes, assaults, attemped homicides or suicides, child or elderly abuse, and traffic incidents.
- Under HIPAA, matters of public record (those incidents that are by law reportable to public authorities such as police, coroner, or public health officials) are no different than other cases with respect to medical privacy. Victims of accidents or assaults have the same privacy rights as all other patients, as do victims of infectious diseases that might affect public health.
- Unless the patient has opted out of releasing any information, media calls requesting patient status information will be answered with the following condition descriptions, if available:
- Under Evaluation - Patient is currently undergoing assessment by MDFR.
- Good - Vital signs are stable and the patient is conscious.
- Fair - Vital signs are stable and the patient is conscious but further evaluation is possibly needed.
- Poor - Vital signs are unstable and the patient is acutely ill or injured.
- Critical - Vital signs are unstable. The patient may be unconscious and the severity of illness or injuries is potentially grave.
- Treated and Released - Patient received treatment by MDFR but was not transported to a medical facility.
- Treated and Transported - Patient received treatment by MDFR and was transferred to a medical facility.
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