New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYP) has been reprimanded for disclosing patients protected health information (PHI) without their consent to film crews of the ABC television series “NY Med.” The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has reached a $2.2 million settlement as well as a decision to start monitoring the hospital for two years to help ensure that NYP remains compliant with its HIPAA obligations.
By being allowed near individuals receiving urgent medical care, the production crew was able to film someone who was dying and another person in significant distress without their consent, running afoul of HIPAA rules which prohibit any disclosure of patient PHI. OCR also discovered that film crews had uninterrupted access to NYP, further creating an environment where PHI went unprotected.
“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,” said Jocelyn Samuels, OCR’s Director. “We take seriously all complaints filed by individuals, and will seek the necessary remedies to ensure that patients’ privacy is fully protected.”
At the center of the settlement is the case of Mark Chanko. In 2011, Chanko was taken to NYP for emergency treatment after being struck by a garbage truck, reports WorldTechToday. The film crew captured failed attempts to save Chanko's life, which were then broadcast and seen unexpectedly by his widow the next year. The show attempted to blur Chanko's face and disguise his voice, but his widow was still able to recognize him.