'Boston Med' Filming Results in HIPAA Settlements

Three health care organizations are paying $999,000 in this case, which is the second HIPAA case involving an ABC medical documentary television series. OCR reached a settlement in April 2016 with New York-Presbyterian Hospital in association with the filming of "NY Med."

The federal Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights announced Sept. 20 that it has reached separate settlements with Boston Medical Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital for compromising the privacy of patients' protected health information by inviting film crews on premises to film "Boston Med," an ABC television network documentary series, without first obtaining authorization from patients.

Collectively, the three health care organizations have paid OCR $999,000 to settle potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule.

This is the second HIPAA case involving an ABC medical documentary television series, following OCR's April 16, 2016, settlement with New York-Presbyterian Hospital in association with the filming of "NY Med."

"Patients in hospitals expect to encounter doctors and nurses when getting treatment, not film crews recording them at their most private and vulnerable moments," said Roger Severino, the OCR director. "Hospitals must get authorization from patients before allowing strangers to have access to patients and their medical information."

To resolve potential HIPAA violations, BMC has paid OCR $100,000, BWH has paid OCR $384,000, and MGH has paid OCR $515,000. Each entity will provide workforce training as part of a corrective action plan that will include OCR's guidance on disclosures to film and media.

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    July/August 2019

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