The process of getting information about a local hospital's patient listing differs at each facility. Hospitals are primarily concerned with protecting the privacy of patients and do not release the name or status of a patient if that patient requests privacy. For patients who don't opt out of the directory, a medical center typically only confirms the presence of a specific patient, asked for by name, as well as a brief general status.
Generally, hospitals give out is a limited amount of information in response to patient inquiries. Although the facility may confirm a patient's admission or discharge, it typically does not provide the room number, diagnosis or any other medical information.
Most hospitals provide a patient status based on one of four options. A critical condition is usually the worst, indicating that vital signs are abnormal and unstable, the patient may or may not be conscious, and the prognosis is unfavorable. A serious condition is similar to a critical one, except that the prognosis is improved to questionable. Fair and good, or satisfactory, conditions note that the patient has stable and normal vital signs and that indicators are favorable. The main difference between these two conditions is that the latter indicates the patient is comfortable.
Additionally, a hospital may note that a patient's status is undetermined, treated and released, or treated and transferred.