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Patient Notification Toolkit

Section 2: Planning Media and Communication Strategies

Patient notifications often involve some level of media engagement, but the level can vary in scale from a single press statement announcing the extent of the investigation/notification, to multiple press releases and press conferences as the investigation/notification unfolds. Throughout the investigation and notification process, it will be important to take the media into account and fulfill their needs as a part of the communication response. Media can be very helpful in rapidly conveying important health information, particularly in large-scale patient notifications. Patients may be difficult to reach and media outlets can help to spread the word. Even if media engagement is not proactively sought, it is possible that patients or healthcare personnel may independently contact media during the investigation/notification. Therefore, facilities and health departments should be prepared for media attention anytime a patient notification is performed. The primary factors in planning media and communication strategies are:

  1. Determining the extent of the information to convey to the news media
  2. Determining when to convey that information
  3. Determining who to coordinate with to convey that information
  4. Being prepared if information is leaked to the media before it is formally announced

The following resources will help guide media and communication strategies. Note that some of these are intended for novice communications professionals.

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