Monterey County Herald | 03/02/2005 | Hospitals must follow wishes of patients who want privacy:
"Dear Abby: I am a nursing supervisor in a large hospital. There is a policy in hospitals that the public does not understand, and it has caused more than a few problems.
Because of privacy laws, all patients admitted to the hospital must be asked if they want to be a 'privacy patient' or a 'no publicity patient.' If they answer yes to that question, it means that if anyone calls, or comes to the hospital, we cannot even acknowledge that the patient is here. We must say, 'I don't have a patient listed by that name.'
Not surprisingly, this often upsets friends and family members. So please, Abby, remind your readers about the privacy laws. We are not purposely lying to anyone; we are just following the patient's instructions and obeying the rules. Thank you. -- Frustrated Nurse in Ironton, Ohio
Dear Frustrated: Thank YOU for injecting an important dose of reality. While some patients may welcome visitors, many more do not. One solution is to assign a particular relative or friend to be the 'minister of information.' That way, there is less emotional wear and tear on all concerned."