I’ve written before about the questionable health advice from such TV shows as Dr. Oz and The Doctors.
Now recent reports show that more TV docs, such as those that are “medical experts” for morning news shows or those that have their own TV shows, might be vulnerable to conflict of interest charges.
Using the feds’ new database, Open Payments, you can search doctors by name to see if they receive money or other perks from pharmaceutical or medical device companies.
A review of the database finds physician journalists—those who appear regularly on news shows like Fox News, ABC News, and CBS News—are offering medical advice without disclosing that they’re receiving money from the pharmaceutical industry, which could benefit from the doctors’ on-air recommendations.
These fringe benefits of a sort violate ethical standards of most all newsrooms, imposed to ensure their audience that their reporters have no conflicts that could discredit their work. The code of ethics for the Society of Professional Journalists states that reporters should refuse “gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and avoid political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity or impartiality, or may damage credibility.”
I’ve found Open Payments to be rather user unfriendly, and would suggest an alternate site, ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs.
Related post: The Open Payments Database
It’s a slippery slope when doctors start dispensing advice via the television. Especially if they are popular, doctors will be offered generous deals by the marketing industry to subtly promote certain products or procedures.
Don’t take advice from an “entertainment” doc without doing some background checking first.