Anita Chanko has filed charges against ABC after the station filmed and aired footage of her husband dying, without her permission.
Chanko accidentally stumbled upon the footage when she was unable to sleep one night and turned on her television. It was aired on Doctor Mehmet Oz's reality show, NY Med.
Mark Chanko died after being hit by a sanitation truck in Manhatten, sixteen months prior and now his wife was reliving this horrible ordeal on TV.
"Even with the blurred picture, you could tell it was him," Chanko told ProPublica's Charles Ornstein. "You could hear his speech pattern. I hear my husband say, 'Does my wife know I'm here?'"
Those were a dying man's last words and should have been kept private, between family members. NY Med nor New York Presbyterian, (Where Mark Chanko died) were ever given permission to air these moments
Ms. Chanko had no idea that some of the people in gowns and gloves at the hospital were actually the NY Med crew. She heard the staff ask one another if they were ready to pronounce her husband dead. Once they did, the camera switches to the physician who tells the family the bad news (off camera).
"I did everything I possibly could," Dr. Schubl said. "Unfortunately, he did not survive. I am sorry." He then looks at the camera and says "Rough day, rough day."
Ms. Chanko's son sent a letter to the privacy officer at New York Presbyterian stating that the footage cause him "great emotional distress and psychological harm" after watching his father's last moments on earth, aired for all to see, "of what can only be described as drive-by voyeuristic 'entertainment.'"
Following the complaint from the son, the New York State Department of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services civil rights office, ABC removed the footage from future broadcasts.
The hospital claimed that the father's privacy was honored, because the image, likeness and other identifying information were completely obscured.
But, Ms. Chanko received a phone call, after the show aired from a friend of hers, who asked if it was Chanko's husband Mark that she just saw on the show. She recognized him.
The Chanko family have filed a $5 million dollar law suit against ABC and the physician for violating her husbands privacy. The case was dismissed by an appellate court, when ABC's attorney stated that the law only prohibits medical professionals from sharing information about their patients after treatment. Since the video was shot while Chanko was being treated, the attorney said the footage was legal.
The court also said that the footage of Chanko's death "was not so extreme and outrageous as to support a claim for intentional infliction of emotion distress" nor did a breach of the duty not to disclose personal information about the patient take place "since no such information" was disclosed".
The hospital's policy and their agreement with ABC requires that they always ask for consent from the patient, before any filming, audio or photos. Mark Chanko was alert when he was brought to the hospital and could have voiced his wishes at that time, but he was never offered that opportunity
The state health department said "The patient was unaware and uninformed that he was being filmed and viewed by a camera crew while receiving medical treatment thus his privacy in receiving medical treatment was not ensured,"
It is still under investigation as to whether the Chanko's families privacy was violated. The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) clearly outlines that they discourage the filming for public viewing of E.R. patients and staff "except when they can give fully informed consent prior to their participation."
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