FHN: “Standard protocol does not permit admitted inpatients to leave the hospital or hospital grounds”

FREEPORT, ILLINOIS — FHN has recently been the subject of a number of media reports and social media commentary, and has received numerous requests for information concerning a recent incident. FHN has cooperated fully with the Freeport Police Department investigation of the incident, but is not able to freely share information with the public about the incident without patient authorization.

FHN respects and protects the privacy rights of all of its patients. Privacy laws, including HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996), prohibit healthcare organizations from publicly sharing Protected Health Information about a patient without the patient’s written authorization. Protected Health Information includes the identity, care and treatment of the patient, as well as information related to their hospital stay or visit. As such, we may not lawfully confirm or deny any information about a particular patient unless authorized by the patient in writing, waiving their privacy rights under federal law. (However, FHN does confirm that for a patient’s safety FHN’s standard protocol does not permit admitted inpatients to leave the hospital or hospital grounds while under care. Our security officers, as well as hospital staff, are well acquainted with this protocol.)

FHN takes all issues raised by patients, staff, and visitors very seriously and is committed to respect, dignity, and compassion for all of the families we care for in our community. We will continue to work as transparently as possible, given our legal boundaries, towards the resolution of any alleged concern.

FHN, a not-for-profit organization with nearly 1,400 employees, is an award-winning regional healthcare system committed to the health and well-being of the people of northwest Illinois and southern Wisconsin. FHN Memorial Hospital has been recognized as one of the state’s top hospitals for safety by the Leapfrog group and Healthgrades as well as by the world’s largest, completely independent, non-profit product- and service-testing organization. FHN caregivers serve an average of 1,500 people each day across FHN’s 19 locations in 5 counties spanning northwest Illinois. Organized in 1995 as an integrated healthcare delivery system, FHN is comprised of FHN Memorial Hospital, the Leonard C. Ferguson Cancer Center at FHN Memorial Hospital, 13 family healthcare centers offering primary and specialty medical care, hospice, and outpatient mental health services. For more information about FHN, please visit www.fhn.org.

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