Media Policies and Procedures | MedStar Health

The MedStar Health Media Relations team includes former journalists who are very familiar with how to put together a compelling story. Reach out to us for interviews with physicians, patients, researchers, innovators, newsmakers and experts on the latest breaking news. MedStar Health does not participate in file footage productions or requests for B-roll.


Referring to our Hospitals and Entities

  • When referring to MedStar Health hospitals or entities, the word MedStar always comes first (i.e. use MedStar Georgetown University Hospital as opposed to Georgetown University Hospital, MedStar Washington Hospital Center, MedStar Montgomery Medical Center, MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, etc).
  • On second reference, names may be shortened but still include MedStar (i.e. MedStar Georgetown, MedStar Washington, MedStar Montgomery, MedStar Franklin etc.).
  • The correct name of our health system is MedStar Health and not “MedStar,” which is a name used by other health-related companies around the world that are not affiliated with us.
  • Note that the “S” in MedStar Health should always be capitalized.

Patient information requests

It is the policy of MedStar Health to communicate newsworthy events to external audiences, via the appropriate department of media relations/public relations, while protecting the right of patients to privacy. This policy applies to all patients, both inpatients and outpatients, regardless of whether the case is a matter of public record (see below).

HIPAA regulation

MedStar Health follows the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which strictly limits the information from a patient's medical record that may be released without the patient's expressed consent. The law is aimed at ensuring confidentiality of medical record information and restricting authorized disclosure to all but those who need it for purposes of patient care or to comply with the law.

News media must provide the patient's first and last name when asking for information. MedStar Health may not disclose the nature of extent of a patient's illness without the patient's permission. If a patient objects to the disclosure of information, hospitals may not release any information about that patient. Hospital representatives will not be able to confirm or deny a patient's presence in the hospital, outpatient center, or any MedStar Health facility.

Other circumstances under which no patient information can be provided include:

  • Situations involving domestic violence, rape, abuse, chemical dependency, or suicide

  • Patient endangerment, as determined by law enforcement officials

  • Underage patients for whom there is not written consent from a parent or legal guardian

  • Discharge patients from whom there is no written consent

Patient condition reports

Following guidelines, the hospital can provide a general one-word condition of the patient, to be determined by the charge nurse or physician. These conditions, based on guidelines from the American Hospital Association, are:

  • UNDETERMINED: Patient is awaiting physician and/or assessment.

  • GOOD: Vital signs are stable and within normal limits, patient is conscious and comfortable, indicators are excellent.

  • FAIR: Vital signs are stable and within normal limits, patient is conscious but may be uncomfortable, indicators are favorable.

  • SERIOUS: Vital signs may be unstable and not within normal limits, patient is acutely ill, patient may or may not be conscious, indicators are questionable.

  • CRITICAL: Vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits, patient may not be conscious, indicators are unfavorable.

  • DECEASED: May only be released after next of kin or personal representative has been notified, no additional information about the cause or time of death may be released.

Note: STABLE is not a condition

Interview, photography, and live shot requests

News media must receive prior permission to interview or photograph a patient, physician, or MedStar associate at MedStar Health facilities. News media will be accompanied at all times by a MedStar media relations/PR staff member while on MedStar property.

MedStar will obtain written consent from the interviewee.

News media should contact the media relations/PR department at each facility (see Contacts listing) to determine an appropriate location before dispatching a satellite truck for a live shot, camera crews, reporters, photographers, etc.

*Accessing Campus/Media Parking at MedStar Washington Hospital Center

  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center, located at 110 Irving Street, NW, is bordered by Michigan Avenue, NW, Irving Street NW, and First Street, NW.
  • Media crews must get clearance before arriving on our campus.
  • Parking is usually available near the hospital’s main entrance. If not, the Media Relations team will guide you where to park.
  • The area outside the main entrance provides a nice backdrop for stand-ups and live shots right in front of the marquee sign — MedStar Washington Hospital Center — which is directly across from the Washington Cancer Institute entrance.
  • We’d also request that journalists do their level best not to identify patients or visitors leaving and arriving at the main entrance (limit close-ups, faces, when possible). Our patients and their family members deserve their privacy and the hospital is on private property.


Downloadable images

MedStar Health can provide digital photos of our providers and executives, as well as photos that illustrate medical treatment, research, innovation and education. Various image resolutions are available for print and web-based news media content. Please reach out to the Media Relations team member at the entity you are inquiring about. MedStar Health does not participate in file footage productions or requests for B-roll.