At a cancer fundraising function in Sydney late last year, amongst the offerings at an auction was the chance to attend an operation by a prominent neurosurgeon.
Simon Chapman, Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney by day and singer in a band called the Original Faux Pas by night, happened to be performing at the event.
In an article just published in the BMJ, he ponders the ethical dilemmas involved (extract available here, pay for full version.)
The surgeon was doing a noble thing by trying to contribute to cancer research. But should his patients really be put in a position to have to surrender their privacy? In important respects the same concerns about undue influence also apply to RPA and other reality medical programmes. Patients should be told that the deal between the hospital and the RPA programme provides much needed dollars to the hospital, to enable it to continue to do important things.
Similar issues arise when journalists sit in on operations or other procedures (as I’ve done a number of times).
But this particular incident seems a step beyond such practices.
It will be interesting to watch the reactions to this revelation in such a prominent journal.
• If you would like a copy of the full article, please let me know via the comments section below.
Update, Jan 28
The snapshot below is of an online reader poll being conducted by the Sydney Morning Herald (captured three hours before it closed). One Croakey reader asked for it to be shared with this audience. Personally, I am not sure what conclusions can be drawn from such polls, and stress the small print under the poll that says: