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Hospital reaches $2.2 million settlement for unauthorized filming of patients

April 22, 2016 Washington — A New York hospital agreed to pay $2.2 million for disclosing patients’ protected health information by allowing a television crew to film patients without their permission.

The Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights, said April 21 that New York Presbyterian Hospital committed an “egregious disclosure” of two patients’ protected health information when it allowed the show NY Med to film without first obtaining permission. This includes allowing the crew to film a dying patient and another in significant distress, even after a medical professional “urged the crew to stop.”
“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 director. “We take seriously all complaints filed by individuals, and will seek the necessary remedies to ensure that patients’ privacy is fully protected.”

By allowing patients to be filmed without their authorization by members of the media, NYP’s actions “blatantly violate the Health Information Portability Act rules, which were specifically designed to prohibit the disclosure of individual’s PHI, including images, in circumstances such as these,” said OCR.

OCR also said it found that NYP failed to safeguard protected health information when it allowed ABC film crews “virtually unfettered access.” As part of the settlement, OCR will monitor NYP for two years to help ensure the hospital remains compliant with HIPAA.

For more information regarding the HIPAA Rules in situations involving media access to protected health information, please visit the OCR’s new FAQ page.

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