Thursday, September 30, 2004

Doc Hollywood....
Nice profile in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution of CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta: At CNN, the doctor is always IN
Somewhere, wherever unaired videotape goes to die, there's a rare artifact: a Sanjay Gupta goof.

As TV bloopers go, this one was tiny. But you had to smile, if only at the irony, when CNN's unflappable Gupta misspoke recently while taping an "AccentHealth" segment.

"No good for Sanjay," somebody yelled after Gupta, 34, who had just nimbly negotiated "interstitial cystitis," flubbed an easy, nonmedical word. "It's supposed to be 'unsuccessfully.' He said 'successfully.' "
Dr. Gupta not only keeps up his busy schedule with CNN, he also practices at Emory University:
War and the outside world seemed far away on a recent Monday, when Gupta and two Emory residents spent about eight hours doing complex spinal operations at Grady. Geeky, black Buddy Holly-esque magnifying eyeglasses covered the TV doc's famous face, and nurses hovered over hundreds of exotic-looking instruments. Yet it felt almost calm amid the beeping machines and occasional murmured "Irrigation, please."

"There's always a sense of urgency, but not chaos," Gupta says. "I always tell my residents, 'It's OK to have butterflies. Just make sure they're flying in formation.' "
Dr. Gupta was involved in a minor controversy during his coverage of the Iraq War when he performed surgery on an Iraqi civilian:
Gupta became part of the story temporarily when the neurosurgeon-less Devil Docs asked him to perform brain surgery on a gravely injured Iraqi child. Ultimately, Gupta operated on five seriously wounded people, leading some journalism observers to wonder if he'd blurred the lines.

"How does Gupta the reporter and Gupta the doctor reconcile his competing roles and competing obligations?" the Poynter Institute's journalism ethics specialist Bob Steele wrote at the time. "Does the Hippocratic oath duty always trump the journalistic responsibility to gather information and report stories?"

The criticism took Gupta somewhat aback, because he always knew who he was.

"I had a very clear moral compass out there," Gupta says. "You never stop being a doctor, and you never stop being a human being."

His biggest fan might be Jesus Vidana, a 26-year-old Marine Reserve sergeant so seriously wounded by a sniper's bullet in Baghdad that medics initially declared him dead. Gupta operated on him, and Vidana, now back home in Los Angeles, keeps in touch with the man he credits with saving his life.
"Journalism ethics specialist" no wonder the news is so screwed up.
Cross-posted at Galen's Log
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