By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On April 21, 2016, The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced that New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYP) has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle allegations that it violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). According to OCR, the hospital violated the HIPAA Privacy Regulation by allowing a film crew to record patients without their prior authorization.

Alleged “Egregious Disclosure.”

In a statement, OCR said NYP “blatantly” violated the HIPAA rules by its “egregious disclosure” of two patients’ protected health information (PHI), the term used by HIPAA to describe confidential patient medical information, during the filming of an ABC News health series at its facility. Among other things, NYP allegedly allowed the ABC film crew to film one patient who was dying and another patient who was in significant distress, without their prior consent, said the OCR.

In addition, OCR also found that NYP “failed to safeguard patient health information and allowed ABC film crews virtually unfettered access to its health care facility.”

The Settlement.

In addition to the $2.2 million settlement, NYP agreed to a two-year corrective action plan (CAP). As part of the settlement, NYP is required to ensure it has HIPAA compliant policies and procedures in place, conducts adequate staff training and promptly investigates and reports to OCR any compliance failures.

“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’s Director. “We take seriously all complaints filed by individuals and will seek the necessary remedies to ensure that patients’ privacy is fully protected.”

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Health Care Professionals and Providers.

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Mangan, Dan. “Hospital pays $2.2M after allowing crew to film dying patient.” CNBC News. (April 21, 2016). Web.

“NY hospital that allowed filming agrees to $2.2 million settlement with OCR.” Health (April 21, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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