- Associated Press - Thursday, April 21, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Federal authorities have reached a $2.2 million settlement with a New York City hospital over filming by a television documentary crew that disclosed two patients’ health information without their authorization.

The Department of Health and Human Services said New York-Presbyterian Hospital let the ABC crew for “NY Med” film one patient who was dying and another in significant distress. Under the settlement agreement, the department’s Office of Civil Rights will monitor the hospital for two years.

“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,” office Director Jocelyn Samuels said. “We take seriously all complaints filed by individuals and will seek necessary remedies to ensure that patients’ privacy is fully protected.”

The hospital said its goal was to educate the public about important health issues and the filming didn’t violate the federal patient privacy rule.

“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,” New York-Presbyterian spokeswoman Karen Sodomick said. “It also vividly depicted how our emergency department medical team works tirelessly every day to save patients’ lives.”

In March, New York’s Court of Appeals reinstated Anita Chanko’s lawsuit against the hospital over the filming of her husband’s death after he was brought into the emergency room. Mark Chanko was hit by a truck while crossing a street in April 2011. The episode aired in 2012. His image was blurred and he wasn’t identified, but he was heard talking.

HHS said Thursday that by allowing individuals getting urgent medical care to be filmed by media without authorization, the hospital’s actions “blatantly violate” federal HIPPA rules. HIPPA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which was enacted in 1996.

The settlement says it’s neither an admission by the hospital of HIPPA rule violations nor a concession by HHS that the hospital didn’t violate the rules and isn’t liable for civil penalties.

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