Doctors at New York-Presbyterian Hospital perform dangerous surgeries and explore medical mysteries on the documentary-style television show "NY Med."
But off screen, hospital administrators are dealing with something far less sexy: a settlement over alleged violations of patient privacy rules.
The hospital has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle allegations that it violated Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act rules by allowing the show's crew to film patients without their consent, HHS' Office for Civil Rights announced Thursday.
The Office for Civil Rights found that the hospital allowed the crew to film a dying patient and another in major distress even after a medical professional urged the crew to stop. It also alleged that the hospital gave film crews “virtually unfettered” access to the facility, creating a situation where patient information could not be protected.
As part of the settlement, the Office for Civil Rights will also monitor the hospital for two years to ensure compliance with HIPAA. The hospital denied any HIPAA violations in connection with the show.
It said in a statement that it decided to take part in the ABC show to help educate the public about the complexities of medical care and challenges faced by medical professionals.
“This 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,” the hospital said in the statement. “It also vividly depicted how our emergency department medical team works tirelessly every day to save patients' lives.”
The true-life medical show features New York Presbyterian in Manhattan and Newark's University Hospital, focusing on doctors, nurses and patients. A new season of the show is expected to air this summer. Dr. Mehmet Oz is a doctor on the show.
In March, New York's Court of Appeals reinstated Anita Chanko's lawsuit against the hospital over the filming of her husband's death in the emergency room. Mark Chanko's image was blurred and he wasn't identified, but he was heard talking in a 2012 episode.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.