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June 2015

The Circus Comes to the Emergency Department

Author Affiliations
  • 1Global Media Center for Social Impact, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles
JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(6):883-884. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.1112

Television cameras have been in the emergency department (ED) ever since ABC News began airing a series of documentaries, such as Boston Med and NY Med, depicting the high-pitched life-and-death drama of saving lives in the ED. Renowned hospitals such as Johns Hopkins, New York–Presbyterian, Brigham and Women’s, Massachusetts General, and Boston Medical Center have welcomed camera crews into their EDs to present the wrenching decisions that physicians and their patients and families must make at the most critical times in their lives.1,2

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    1 Comment for this article
    Protecting the integrity of patient-physician interactions
    Patrick W. McCormick, MD, MBA | Chair, Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, American Medical Association
    Baer raises important questions about the ethics of filming patient-physician interactions for public broadcast. In doing so, he echoes guidance offered in the American Medical Association’s Code of Medical Ethics. In Opinion E-5.045, Filming Patients in Health Care Settings, the Code addresses concerns that filming will disrupt physician professionalism and undermine the integrity of the patient-physician relationship. Although the Code does not strictly prohibit filming patients for public audiences, guidance requires physicians to carefully consider issues of patient confidentiality, the quality of informed consent possible in situations when patients are being filmed, the control patients should be able to exert over what is broadcast, the potential for conflict of interest, and the representativeness and educational value of the final product before becoming involved in filming patients in clinical settings.