Patient Condition Updates


The Northwestern Memorial HealthCare Media Relations Department provides patient conditions to members of the media only as allowed by federal and state privacy laws. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects the privacy of a person’s individually identifiable health information. 

Our FIRST responsibility is to protect the confidentiality, health and legal rights of each and every Northwestern Medicine patient. 

Northwestern Medicine may, at its discretion, release general information in response to a media request, provided that the media are able to provide the patient’s full name. No patient information will be released without a name. 

Absent specific written authorization from the patient, Northwestern Medicine will release only a one-word condition to members of the media. One-word condition updates are defined below. 

  • Undetermined: Patient is awaiting 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; indicators are questionable 
  • Critical: Vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits; patient may be unconscious; indicators are unfavorable 

Information will not be released when: 

  • A patient requests that no information is released 
  • A patient opts out of the hospital directory 
  • The patient is receiving psychiatric care 
  • The patient is a minor 
  • Release of information is determined to be harmful to the patient’s care or personal well-being

Only members of the Media Relations team are authorized to provide patient conditions. To request a condition update for a patient, please call Media Relations at 312.926.7432 and provide the patient’s full name. No information will be provided without the individual's first and last name as it appears in the hospital patient directory. 

The Media Relations Department hours of operation are: Monday–Friday: 9 am–5:00 pm. After hours, please call 312.926.2000 and ask the operator to page the on-call Media Relations representative paged. 

Northwestern Medicine will not confirm deaths for the media. For information regarding a Medical Examiner's case, please contact the appropriate local authority: 

  • Cook County Medical Examiner's Office: 312.666.0500 
  • DeKalb County Coroner's Office: 815.895.7206
  • DuPage County Coroner's Office: 630.407.2600  
  • Kane County Coroner's Office: 630.232.3400 
  • Kendall County Medical Examiner's Office: 630.553.4200
  • Lake County Coroner's Office: 847.377.2200 
  • McHenry County Coroner's Office: 815.338.9392