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October 1, 2018

Hospitals, Don't Let TV Cameras Roll Without First Obtaining Patients' Permission

By Patricia A. Markus

South Florida Hospital News and Healthcare Report

Reality television programs addressing a broad array of topics—including shows featuring health care providers furnishing medical services to patients—have permeated many network and cable channel offerings. From 1997 through 2002, TLC aired “Trauma: Life in the ER,” a weekly show featuring cases at different Level One trauma centers and emergency rooms throughout the United States. The show’s production was terminated, in part, because the then-recently-enacted Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and its implementing regulations (“HIPAA”) required patients or their representatives to provide authorization for television crews to record the provision of health care services to such patients before such recording could begin. Before HIPAA became effective, the show’s camera crew typically requested patients’ permission after they began taping, due to the emergency nature of the services; if permission was refused, that patient’s case would not be included in the program that aired.

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