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Widow’s shock sparks change after husband’s death featured on reality show

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NEW YORK — Medical reality shows are a big hit, but would you still watch knowing families and patients have, at times, not consented to the footage used?

That's what happened to a devastated New York family, according to WPIX.

Sixteen months after her husband, Mark Chanko, was struck and killed by a city sanitation truck, Anita Chanko sat down to watch one of her favorite shows, NY Med. Suddenly the story line unfolding on this medical reality show was too real. It was her husband's final moments.

"I actually watched my husband die in front of my eyes and the worst thing is not only did I hear him moan and groan in pain but I heard him say, 'Does my wife know I'm here?'" Chanko recalled.

"I heard the doctor say. 'I'm ready to pronounce him. Are you ready?' I watched him die before my eyes without so much as a heads up from the show."

City Council Member Dan Garodnick along with local members of the State Senate and Assembly now want to make sure this never happens again to another family. Thirty-three out of 51 City Council members Thursday signed a letter to all New York City hospitals asking them to stop the practice of allowing reality shows to film inside and to stop them from violating patient rights.

"We embrace reality TV. This, however, is a crude window into people's medical care and is an unacceptable invasion of privacy and it is a breach in the trust patients place in the hands of their doctors and their hospitals," Garodnick said during a Thursday morning news conference.

There is also state legislation in the works on the matter. Though tabled for now, lawmakers hope it will gain momentum next year. It works to make broadcasts like NY Med illegal if they do not receive patient or family consent first.

"We were absolutely horrified. We could not believe the actions of the hospital and the broadcasting company were deemed legal," Assemblyman Ed Braunstein.

This fall, Garodnick said lawmakers plan to present a public report card of city hospitals, disclosing which have agreed to not allow reality show cameras onto their premises.

The Greater New York Hospital Association told WPIX it agrees no patients should be filmed for entertainment purposes without their consent and added they take patient privacy issues very seriously. GNYHA represents more than 100 hospitals across New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

The Chanko family's case against ABC, NY Med and New York Presbyterian will be heard by the state appeals court in the fall.

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  • The World is Ending

    I sympathize with her loss, however she was watching one of her favorite programs, so she had seen other victims die, but when it hit home she complained?

    • jehnay

      She didn’t know the show wasn’t asking for consent until it happened to her. It wasn’t so much the death as showing it without permission.

    • Laurie Turner

      I understand how upsetting this would be for her to see, however, stating that she sat down to watch one of her favorite shows where she has seen the same fate happen to other families, but then seeing her husband which again I know must have been hard, puts an end to the show and all related and spurs action by law makers, and a law suit?

  • HollyNMundy

    my classmate’s aunt makes $69 hourly on the computer . She has been laid off for 9 months but last month her check was $12237 just working on the computer for a few hours. blog her>>>>>>> Read More

    • The World is Ending

      Do you pretty much go to every story and post this dribble? If you count the time it takes for you to do so you make like minimum wage out side Seattle of course. But I like how you say my classmates aunt, not “I make” so it sounds like you fell for her Scam and are trying to recoup you loss.

  • today was a good day

    It’s for the money! People now days don’t have privacy. Non at all. someo ne is always watching and listening. Does it make a difference now? same people that complain and get offended are the same people making other people feel this way even when it does not involve them!