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Ethical questions posed after CNN journalist-doctor treats Nepal victims

a medical expert interviewed by the UK’s Guardian newspaper said that the physician-journalist’s help raises ethical questions

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Ethnical considerations have been raised after renowned neurosurgeon and CNN reporter Sanjay Gupta was on the channel’s TV crew covering the Nepalese earthquake and seen performing medical procedures while covering a story.

Seen on a news report at the site of the quake, which devastated parts of the capital Kathmandu and killed thousands, Gupta resuscitated a woman mid-air on a helicopter and performed emergency brain surgery on an eight-year-old girl.

But one commentator interviewed by the UK’s Guardian newspaper said that the physician-journalist’s help raises ethical questions.

“As a journalist with medical training, do you really need to film the times when you get involved?” said Connie St Louis, a writer and director of the Science Journalism program at London’s City University.

“There’s certainly a possible confidentiality issue, as well as the potential for self-promotion. If you film the journalist doing the medical procedure, they become the story. My feeling is, why do it in Nepal when there is no way you could possibly do this in America?”

During disasters such as the 2010 Haiti quake, when journalists were also seen performing medical interventions, some ethics experts wrote of the conflicting nature of medical work and journalism.

“I think it's very hard for an individual who is professionally and emotionally engaged in saving lives to be able to simultaneously step back from the medical work and practice independent journalistic truth-telling,” Bob Steele, journalism values scholar at the Poynter Institute and journalism professor at the Indiana-based DePauw University, told the LA Times in 2010.