Health Law Daily Hospital agrees to $2.2M settlement after television crew filmed patients
Thursday, April 21, 2016

Hospital agrees to $2.2M settlement after television crew filmed patients

By Bryant Storm, J.D.

The New York and Presbyterian Hospital (NYP) entered into a $2.2 million settlement agreement with HHS to resolve allegations of what HHS labeled the “egregious disclosure” of two patients’ protected health information (PHI) to NYP staff and an ABC television film crew. The PHI disclosure occurred during the filming of an ABC television series—NY Med. According to the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the hospital allowed the film crew to film a dying patient and another patient in significant distress, without first obtaining the patients’ authorization, even after a medical professional pressed crew members to stop (Settlement Agreement, April 21, 2016).

Disclosure. HHS received a complaint that NYP impermissibly disclosed PHI on April 28, 2011, as the result of a television show being filmed in the hospital. The OCR investigated the complaint and determined that NYP violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) (P.L 104-191)Privacy Rule by allowing an ABC film crew to film patients without the patients’ prior authorization. In addition to permitting the filming of the dying and distressed patients, the OCR also discovered that NYP allowed the ABC crew “unfettered access to its health care facility.” The result, according to HHS, was an environment where PHI could not be protected from improper disclosures.

Filming. HHS called the filming a “blatant violation” of the Privacy Rule. The Privacy Rule was designed to prohibit the unauthorized disclosure of all PHI, which includes images. HHS has taken steps to prevent such unauthorized disclosures. For example, the agency has an FAQ on its website designed to help providers like NYP allow film and media crews to film in a hospital in accordance with HIPAA requirements.

Corrective action plan. In addition to paying the $2.2 million resolution amount, NYP also agreed to a corrective action plan. Under the corrective action plan, the hospital is obligated to revise its HIPAA polices, report potential compliance issues, train NYP staff on HIPAA compliance, and report to HHS on its implementation of the corrective action plan.

Companies: New York Presbyterian Hospital

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