The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR) this week announced it had reached a $2.2 million settlement with New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYP) related to the unauthorized filming of two patients for an episode of “NY Med.”
According to an OCR announcement about the settlement, Manhattan-based NYP violated Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rules for the “egregious disclosure of two patients’ protected health information (PHI) to film crews and staff during the filming of 'NY Med,' an ABC television series.” OCR also stated the NYP did not first obtain authorization from the patients. “In particular, OCR 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.”
“By allowing individuals receiving urgent medical care to be filmed without their authorization by members of the media, NYP’s actions blatantly violate the HIPAA Rules, which were specifically designed to prohibit the disclosure of individual’s PHI, including images, in circumstances such as these,” the OCR press release stated.
OCR Director Jocelyn Samuels said in a statement, “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. We take seriously all complaints filed by individuals, and will seek the necessary remedies to ensure that patients’ privacy is fully protected.”
OCR also stated that the agency found that NYP failed to safeguard PHI and allowed ABC film crews virtually unfettered access to its health care facility, “effectively creating an environment where PHI could not be protected from impermissible disclosure to the ABC film crew and staff.” In addition to the $2.2 million, OCR will monitor NYP for two years as part of this settlement agreement.