The AMA report describes the diverse and sometimes conflicting roles that physicians have in the media. When a doctor is treating a patient, for example, our duty is clear: above all else, we must act in the patient’s best interest. In the media, however, a doctor’s role may not always be so clear: she may be reporting on basic health information, interpreting a new scientific study, advocating for a specific intervention, or representing a commercial organization. Patients who are used to doctors only playing one role may be confused by these competing priorities.
When the goal is to entertain and even profit from a media appearance, a doctor’s priorities may dangerously shift away from the patient.