Television medical experts are not all created equal

Every television station has their own physician pundit commenting on medical news.

But with some many different fields of medicine, how can a single physician claim to be an expert on every health topic?

Surgeon Jeffrey Parks takes issue with ABC News’ recent coverage on the tragic death of Senator John Murtha. Richard Bessler, a pediatrician who works at the CDC, was the on camera expert commenting on the surgical complication.

In analyzing the pundit, Dr. Parks noted “you can tell that he looked at a human atlas and saw that the colon seems to be pretty close to the gallbladder,” and, “his hypothesis [was] detached from any semblance of statistical likelihood.”

Being a television medical expert means more than looking good and having a charismatic demeanor. Getting facts straight needs to count for something as well.

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  • Joseph F. Sucher, MD FACS

    The truth is, these media people have no clue that one doctor is not like the other. Fox News is horrible in this respect. I don’t know who vetted these physicians, but they consistently report outside their field of expertise. The news game is just to get someone with “MD” stamped behind their name and get a story out there. They really could care less what the doctor does or doesn’t know. I have been approached numerous times to discuss issues that have nothing to do with general surgery or critical care. It is the physician’s responsibility to direct the media to an appropriate doctor.

  • Leigh Ann Otte

    Good point. One thing I’ve learned in my line of work: Just because you’re on TV (or have written books, or say you’re a “doctor to the stars”) doesn’t mean what you say is right. We tend to think celebrity doctors must be the best of the best. Often, I believe, your hometown family doctor is the better bet.

  • Lawyers

    Yes, people in the media should stop airing such shows, where one doctor answers every query. It would be helpful for people they get a certain specialist who answers only specific queries…

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