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HHS-OCR Announces Settlements Totaling $999,000 to Resolve HIPAA Violations Stemming from the Filming of “Boston Med”

On September 20, 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (HHS-OCR) announced that Boston Medical Center (“BMC”), Brigham and Women’s Hospital (“BWH”), and Massachusetts General Hospital (“MGH”) will pay HHS-OCR a combined $999,000 to settle allegations that the three hospitals each violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) by disclosing protected health information (“PHI”) without first obtaining authorization from patients.

All the alleged unauthorized disclosures related to these settlements occurred when each of the three hospitals permitted television crews to film on their premises for the ABC documentary series “Boston Med.” A previous ABC documentary series, “NY Med,” resulted in a similar settlement in 2016 when New York-Presbyterian Hospital agreed to pay HHS-OCR $2.2 million to resolve alleged HIPAA violations related to filming inside the hospital.

Under the settlement agreements for the Boston hospitals, BMC has paid $100,000, BWH has paid $384,000, and MGH has paid $515,000. In addition to the monetary penalties paid, each of these hospitals will have to implement comprehensive corrective action plans to prevent similar unauthorized disclosures in the future.

The attorneys at CCLB assist healthcare entities of all types and sizes with HIPAA-related issues, including audits, assessments, and HHS-OCR investigations. For any questions, or if we can assist you in connection with such a matter, please contact us at (404) 262-6505 or sgrubman@cclblaw.com.