Federal authorities reach $2.2 million settlement with New York City hospital over TV filming

In a TV filming case, federal authorities have reached a $2.2 million settlement with a New York City hospital. The case was based on filming by a television documentary crew that revealed the health information of two patients without their consent.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, New York-Presbyterian Hospital allowed the ABC crew for ‘NY Med’ to film a dying patient and another in considerable distress. As part of the settlement agreement, the department’s Office of Civil Rights will be keeping an eye over the hospital for coming couple of years.

Office Director Jocelyn Samuels said, “This case sends important message that OCR won’t permit covered entities to compromise patients’ privacy by allowing news or television crews to film patients without authorization. We take seriously complaints filed by individuals and will seek necessary remedies to ensure patients’ privacy is fully protected”.

As per the hospital, its aim was to make the public aware about vital health problems, and the filming doesn’t amount to violation of the federal patient privacy rule.

New York-Presbyterian spokeswoman Karen Sodomick said that the program and the ones that preceded it, has been critically acclaimed, and has raised the consciousness of public regarding the significant public health issues, which include organ transplantation and donation.

Sodomick added that it has also intensely showcased how their emergency department medical team functions untiringly each day to save the lives of patients.

New York’s Court of Appeals reinstated Anita Chanko’s lawsuit in March against the hospital regarding recording of the death of her husband after doctors took him into the emergency room. In April 2011, a truck hit Mark Chanko when he was crossing a street, and the episode was aired the following year. Though his picture was blurred and his identifications wasn’t revealed, he was heard talking.

“New York Presbyterian hospital has coughed up $2.2 million to settle claims that it violated medical ethics by allowing the Dr. Oz-hosted “NY Med” program to film patients without their consent — including one who suffered and died on camera,” according to a news report published by NYPost.

The settlement was announced Thursday by the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights, which called the disclosures “egregious.” Federal officials found that “NYP allowed the ABC crew to film someone who was dying and another person in significant distress even after a medical professional urged the crew to stop.”

According to a report in BusinessInsider by Michael Virtanen, “The Department of Health and Human Services said New York-Presbyterian Hospital let the ABC crew for “NY Med” film one patient who was dying and another in significant distress. Under the settlement agreement, the department’s Office of Civil Rights will monitor the hospital for two years.”

“This case sends an important message that OCR will not permit covered entities to compromise their patients’ privacy by allowing news or television crews to film the patients without their authorization,” office Director Jocelyn Samuels said. “We take seriously all complaints filed by individuals and will seek necessary remedies to ensure that patients’ privacy is fully protected.”

A report published in Propublica informed, “At the same time, regulators clarified the rules regarding the filming of patients, prohibiting health providers from inviting crews into treatment areas without permission from all patients who are present. That could end popular television shows that capture emergencies and traumas in progress, only getting permission from patients afterward.”

“It is not sufficient for a health care provider to request or require media personnel to mask the identities of patients (using techniques such as blurring, pixelation, or voice alteration software) for whom an authorization was not obtained,” the Office for Civil Rights within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in an online post.

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