JAMA article focuses on commercial filming of patients in hospitals

July 16, 2002

LOS ANGELES, CA (July 16, 2002) - From daytime dramas to television news, the public has long been fascinated by matters of science and health. In recent years, the increasing popularity of reality-based television and health programs has given rise to concern about the ethical and legal issues with regard to privacy and confidentiality when filming patients for commercial purposes.

In an article published in the July 17, 2002 issue of the JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, Joel M. Geiderman, M.D. and Gregory L. Larkin, M.D., M.S.P.H., explore the ethical and legal issues that arise when filming patients who are receiving care. In their article, "Commercial Filming of Patient Care Activities in Hospitals" the authors review the common circumstances in which patients are commercially filmed in hospitals and discuss potential positive aspects and negative consequences of such activities. They also examine the competing goals of commercial filming and the duties of journalists versus the rights of patients to privacy.

In addition, Drs. Geiderman and Larkin review ethical principles, applicable Constitutional and case law, existing standards of the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), and published opinions from the American Medical Association on the subject of filming. They also propose additional guidelines for commercial filming of patient care in hospitals. Among other suggested guidelines, they propose that filming should only commence after valid informed consent has been obtained from the patient.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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