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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Patient-centered TV: 24 hours a day

We love Grey’s Anatomy, E.R., Chicago Hope, St. Elsewhere, Marcus Welby MD, and all the others:  the drama of near-death experiences and rescue by wise, handsome doctors and beautiful nurses:  What’s not to like?

And hospitals love the publicity of real-life TV shows about their doctors and nurses as heroes, for it polishes their public image.  Some patients may like appearing on TV, too.

But not always.  Anita Chanko was horrified to see her husband’s death in an Emergency Room televised, without her consent, on ABC’s program, “NY Med.”  When her husband had been hit by a truck late one night and brought to the E.R., a doctor had blocked her from seeing him.  But they didn’t block the TV videographers who recorded the hospital’s treatment of patients 24 hours a day.  The hospital’s Vice President of Public Affairs explained that “you can’t buy this kind of publicity, an eight-part series on a major broadcast network.” 

If all patients formally consent beforehand to being broadcast, that is their choice.  But for me, if a hospital is concerned with my dignity and privacy, please don’t broadcast me at my most vulnerable and weakest moment for your viewers’ titillation.

Read a story about the Patients' Bill of Rights.  Thanks to Charles Ornstein of the New York Times for the story, “Dying in the E.R., and on TV,” and Dina Litovsky for the photo.

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