Reality Show Footage of Dying ER Patient Filmed Without Permission Raises Serious Concerns

hospitalWould you willingly watch a reality show filmed in a hospital if you knew that some of the patients hadn't agreed to be on TV? Because apparently the ABC reality show NY Med aired footage of an ER patient dying without his family's permission -- they didn't even know he'd been filmed at all!


I just can't even wrap my head around how the producers of this TV show -- or New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where it was filmed -- could even begin to think how any of this was anywhere close to acceptable, but they reportedly filmed an emergency room patient while he was actually, literally DYING -- then they had the audacity to show the footage on TV without asking his family first (or even telling them about it!). Classy, ABC, real classy.

Naturally, the family sued both New York-Presbyterian Hospital and ABC (well, wouldn't you??), but a judge initially dismissed the case, which seems completely bizarre -- almost as bizarre as the hospital's argument in court that because New York state privacy laws only protect the living, so there was no violation in this case. Wow. That's a horrifyingly callous, not to mention flimsy, argument coming from anyone, but a hospital?? An institution that's supposed to exist for the sole purpose of helping people?? Yikes.

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Luckily, a state appeals court has decided to hear the case, and the Greater New York Hospital Association (which represents all the hospitals in NYC’s five boroughs) is now requesting that its members ban cameras from filming patients without their permission. New York state, meanwhile, is currently considering legislation outlawing the filming of patients without their consent.

So it seems as if common sense is going to prevail, hopefully -- but the fact that any of this happened in the first place is just beyond comprehension, at least in my book. I personally would feel horrible (and slightly sick to my stomach) to know that I'd just witnessed someone's death on TV without his consent or that of his family, and I have to believe the average TV viewer would feel the same way. Sure, reality TV has sort of redefined the definition of "entertainment," but there has to be some sort of standard of decency -- especially when the healthcare industry is involved!


Image via Phalinn Ooi/Flickr

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