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J Clin Ethics. 2013 Spring;24(1):50-7.

The ethics of reality medical television.

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Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA.


Reality medical television, an increasingly popular genre, depicts private medical moments between patients and healthcare providers. Journalists aim to educate and inform the public, while the participants in their documentaries-providers and patients-seek to heal and be healed. When journalists and healthcare providers work together at the bedside, moral problems precipitate. During the summer of 2010, ABC aired a documentary, Boston Med, featuring several Boston hospitals. We examine the ethical issues that arise when journalism and medicine intersect. We provide a framework for evaluating the potential benefits and harms of reality medical television, highlighting critical issues such as informed consent, confidentiality, and privacy.

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