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October 9, 2002

Commercial Filming of Patient-Physician Interactions

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Stephen J. Lurie, MD, PhD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2002;288(14):1718-1719. doi:10.1001/jama.288.14.1718

To the Editor: In their discussion of commercial filming of patient-physician interactions for the general public, Drs Geiderman and Larkin1 did not discuss the televising of live surgical or other invasive procedures at professional conferences. A few years ago, I attended a medical conference at which transesophageal echocardiography was to be performed live for approximately 200 physician attendees. Dozens of members of the technical and medical crews were assembled. The teleconferencing equipment, after a few technical problems, began broadcasting the verbal interplay of the moderators (reminiscent of news magazine shows) to fill time while the patient was sedated. Finally, the moment arrived and the physician inserted the probe. No luck. The patient grunted as the physician tried once more. Again, the physician was unable to insert the instrument. The quandary of the physician was clear and uncomfortable to watch. The physician had a duty to benefit the patient by doing the procedure with care, yet also a duty to the 200 paying conferees who expected the physician and conference sponsors to deliver on their promise of a live demonstration. Geiderman and Larkin note that patient care may be negatively affected by filming and this conflict of loyalties, to patient and to audience, is concerning given the apparent frequency of such live displays.