Hospital to pay $2.2M settlement over man’s death on reality show

Mark and Ken Chanko on a family cruise in 2006

Mark and Ken Chanko on a family cruise in 2006

By Sabina Mollot

The family of the former Stuyvesant Town resident whose final moments after being hit by a truck were filmed without permission and aired on a reality show, scored a major victory last Thursday when a federal investigation resulted in a $2.2 million settlement with the hospital.

For the past three years the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) had been investigating whether the hospital, New York Presbyterian, violated HIPAA rules when it allowed a camera crew to film Mark Chanko without his or his family’s knowledge. The footage of Chanko, including his death, and the doctor delivering the sad news to his family (who didn’t know the doctor was wearing a microphone) was used in an episode of an ABC show called “NY Med.” It aired 16 months after Chanko’s visit to the hospital in 2011. His face was blurred and his voice altered but Chanko’s widow, Anita, recognized him immediately when watching “NY Med” at home.

A separate lawsuit filed by the family is set to be heard in the Court of Appeals following a decision earlier this month to allow it to proceed.

Additionally, legislation that would ban filming patients at hospitals without prior consent, which was drafted in response to Chanko’s filming, is currently pending at the state level.

On the settlement, the OCR referred to two patients, including Chanko, who had been filmed for the show, despite a medical professional asking the TV crew to stop filming.

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