// By Lisa Ellis //
Flip through the channels of your television set any evening and chances are you’ll stumble across an episode of a reality TV series that was filmed in a hospital emergency department. Over the past few years, such “real” medical TV that presents traumas as they unfold has grown in popularity among viewers, and some organizations view participation in these types of shows as a chance to educate the general population about various health conditions and to show the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.
Sparking Ethical Debates Over Privacy
Yet the presence of media and camera crews in patient care areas (typically before approval is obtained from patients) has sparked a variety of ethical debates. It was also the subject of a recent lawsuit filed against New York-Presbyterian Hospital by the family of a patient whose death was filmed and broadcast on a reality TV medical show without obtaining permission to air this footage. The hospital was ordered to pay more than $2 million in government fines for this violation.
Tougher Restrictions on Media Presence
All of this also recently prompted the US Department of Health and Human Services to establish tougher policies on health care organizations when it comes to allowing the media access to facilities (and note that the policies apply not just to emergency departments but to entire facilities, so promotional stories are also affected). As a result, many health systems are being forced to rethink how they work with the media, as well as when and where.
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