The New York - Presbyterian Hospital is under fire after filming two unaware patients undergoing medical procedures. It has agreed to pay $2.2 million to federal authorities. The patients involved were said to be under extreme duress during the filming but the hospital allowed the continued filming despite requests of medical professionals to stop.

According to the Office for Civil Rights, a hospital patient has the right to privacy known as Hipaa where it is defined that the media is not allowed to air patients’ health information without prior authorization.

The Office of the Civil Rights and the Department of Health and Human Services stated that “It is not sufficient for a health care provider to request or require media personnel to mask the identities of patients for whom an authorization was not obtained”.

Medical regulators explained the rules regarding filming of delicate medical procedures, stating that hospitals should prohibit film crews from capturing images without permission from the patients involved. They also released a statement that the recent events may cut the trend of TV shows that film medical emergencies.

This is not the first instance for the hospital. In 2013, The New York – Presbyterian received a complaint from Kenneth Chanko whose father Mark was hit by a truck on 2011.

ABC program “NY Med” featured Dr. Mehmet Oz being filmed as he unsuccessfully operated to save Mark’s life. The film did not air until a year later where Mark’s wife Anita saw the footage and recognized her husband though his face was blurred and voice modified.

The New York - Presbyterian stood firm that they did not violate any laws. Upon resolution, the hospital agreed to update policies and additional staff schooling. The resolution also required the hospital to submit to government observation.

Furthermore, hospital statements say that they did not violate Hipaa and that the filming is for education saying “it was intended to educate the public and provide insight into the complexities of medical care and the daily challenges faced by our dedicated and compassionate medical professionals.”

The hospital added “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. It also vividly depicted how our emergency department medical team works tirelessly every day to save patients’ lives.”

The court’s unanimous decision files a suit against the hospital’s chief surgical resident Sebastiam Schubl for alleged breach of doctor-patient confidentiality. New York lawmakers have proposed that filming patients without their consent would be a criminal offense and that it will only be allowed with patients’ prior consent. MIMS