Family Suit on Hospital Reality Show Revived

     (CN) – The widow of a man whose death was televised on ABC’s “NY Med” can sue the hospital for breach of physician-patient confidentiality, New York’s highest court ruled.
     ABC was filming the show at The New York-Presbyterian Hospital when Mark Chanko arrived in its emergency room after being hit by a car.
     In her lawsuit, Anita Chanko said nobody informed her or other members of the family that the television show’s cameras were filming the dying man’s treatment and Dr. Sebastian Schubl’s declaration of his death.
     Anita Chanko said she was watching “NY Med” 16 months later when she saw her husband die on television.
     Chanko and her three children sued ABC, Schubl and the hospital, but the New York Appellate Division ordered the entire case dismissed.
     Chanko took the case to the New York Court of Appeals, arguing that the public had no interest in her husband’s death.
     The New York Court of Appeals on Thursday revived one claim breach of physician-patient confidentiality against two defendants, the physician and the hospital.
     “Our broad rule protects all types of medical information and provides consistency, avoiding case-by-case determinations of what is considered embarrassing to any particular patient,” Judge Leslie Stein wrote for the court.
     Stein added that the appellate division “appears to have focused only on the aired television episode and the fact that decedent’s image was blurred and his name was not used in the episode.”
     Chanko presented affidavits alleging that at least one viewer recognized her husband on TV.
     “The complaint clearly alleges that the Hospital and Schubl revealed confidential medical information concerning decedent’s treatment and diagnosis to the ABC film crew that was present in the Hospital while the treatment was occurring,” Stein wrote.
     Stein added that during discovery, Chanko may gain access to 50 minutes of raw footage, which “could very well reveal the level of decedent’s awareness that others were present while he was being treated, and any reaction he may have had to their presence.”
     As for the emotional distress claim, Stein wrote that the appellate division properly ruled in ABC’s favor, despite Stein’s opinion that “the broadcasting of a recording of a patient’s last moments of life without consent would likely be considered reprehensible by most people, and we do not condone it.
     “Nevertheless, it was not so extreme and outrageous as to satisfy our exceedingly high legal standard,” she added.

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