Reality TV in hospitals may soon be a thing of the past as authorities crack down on unauthorized filming.
One of the most infamous names in medical reality television is in hot water after New York-Presbyterian Hospital reached a huge settlement to the tune of $2.2 million for allowing TV crews to film two patients without their permission. According to a report from the New York Times, one of the patients was dying, while the other was dealing with serious health issues.
The Office for Civil Rights with the Department of Health and Human Services even says that film crews persisted after doctors asked them to stop. Permission was only granted after the film crews had taped emergency procedures in the hospital. According to a statement, “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, pixilation or voice alteration software) for whom an authorization was not obtained.”
Regulators reiterated the rules surrounding the videotaping of patients on hospital property, stating that health providers could not invite crews to film in treatment areas without the explicit permission from all of the patients present in that area.
The settlement involves a film crew f0r the ABC television show “NY Med” featuring prominent TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz as they followed doctors who tried to save the life of Mark Chanko, a man who was hit by a garbage truck in 2011. Chanko’s wife, Anita, only learned of her late husband’s involvement on the television show when she recognized his voice on an airing of the television show the following year.
The Office for Civil Rights is responsible for carrying out the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or Hippa, which protects patients’ privacy with regards to personal health information.
According to Jocelyn Samuels, the director of the Office for Civil Rights, “This case sends an important message that O.C.R. will not permit covered entities to compromise their patients’ privacy by allowing news or television crews to film the patients without their authorization.”
Chanko’s son, Kenneth, was grateful for the outcome of the case. “I’m almost at a loss of words because we’re just so grateful that action was taken and this will have a national impact on hospitals.”
While NY Presbyterian agreed to pay the settlement fine, hospital officials maintain that no Hippa rules were broken. They said that participation in the filming “was intended to educate the public and provide insight into the complexities of medical care and the daily challenges faced by our dedicated and compassionate medical professionals. The program, and the others that preceded it garnered critical acclaim, and raised the public’s consciousness of important public health issues, including organ transplantation and donation. It also vividly depicted how our emergency department medical team works tirelessly every day to save patients’ lives.”
A press release from HHS describing the massive settlement can be found here.