Pursuant to a directive from the Director General of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry has compiled guiding principles for medical professionals on reality TV shows. In addition, the ethics committee of the Israel Medical Union will submit to the Director General, at his request, a code of ethics, which is currently being put together.
The guiding principles for medical professionals on reality TV shows
- Reality shows involve considerable pressure on the participant, with all of the short-term and long-term risks that involves. It is important to ensure that candidates for participation in the show are aware of the risks to their mental well-being and, in some cases – their physical well-being.
- The concessionaire and the producer must do their best to safeguard the mental and physical well-being of the participants. The concessionaire is directly accountable to the governing bodies.
- Fundamental and unreserved commitment is required from the attending party toward the patient/participant, and to considerations originating exclusively from the medical field.
- The principles presented here apply to all fields of medicine.
- The concessionaire shall appoint a professional, independent supervisor to oversee a professional team acting on his behalf, and whose responsibility shall be – preserving the mental and physical well-being of the show’s participants. This team shall uphold the principles listed below.
- The supervisory team shall ensure that suitable conditions are provided for preserving the mental and physical health of the participants.
- A stringent screening process must be held for all participants, where their mental fitness for the rigors of the show will be evaluated. This process shall be free of any production/rating considerations, and shall be managed by the professional medical team, who shall be at liberty to take whichever actions and decisions, and these shall be considered final.
- The following sentence shall be undersigned by the concessionaire, the production and the participant: “Participation in the show constitutes a radical lifestyle change for you, including full or partial severing of your links to your natural sources of support, namely your family and friends, and from a large part of the external stimuli to which you are accustomed. All of these, in addition to the competitive atmosphere and the media exposure, may amount to considerable causes of stress. As such, they may form a backdrop to severe mental crises, and sometimes to physical crises. By deciding to participate in the show, you are expressing your personal choice, which means your knowing agreement to be exposed to this danger.”
- The medical team shall hold routine sessions with the participants to assess developing mental or physical crises, in real time, and to provide the appropriate support and assistance, including taking a decision to end participation in the show.
- Total privacy shall be preserved, safeguarding the patient’s dignity, self-esteem and confidentiality. The production team shall only be informed subject to the patient granting his full consent , and only on condition that such disclosure may provide some sort of remedial benefit.
- Take whichever measures need to be taken to safeguard the patient’s mental and physical well-being, in real time, including ending participation and neutralizing the sources of pressure on the patient, if necessary.
- If necessary, once the show has ended, guiding and accompanying the participants through mental or physical therapy channels befitting their condition.
- The medical team shall, to all intents and purposes, within each medical discipline, regard the participants as patients, including fulfillment of all of the obligations this entails under the patient’s rights law and the best practices of delivering medical care.