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Live AF Ablation Case on the Today Show: Education or Spectacle? March 25, 2010

Posted by Leonard Ganz, MD, FHRS in Education.
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In early February 2010, a live AF ablation case aired on the Today Show. To be correct, I should say that a live case was the central element in a brief segment on AF on the Today Show. Even at scientific meetings, the concept of live case presentations is controversial. There are patient confidentiality issues, and the ever present “what if there’s a complication?” concern. In a CME setting, presenters must be extremely careful to present a balanced view and not show bias towards one particular technology or piece of equipment. When these issues are carefully considered, many will concede that the educational value of a live case presentation outweighs all of these caveats.

On the Today Show, none of these issues were considered. The presentation focused on a single technology and painted an overly optimistic view of the success rate of the procedure, with no real meaningful discussion of possible complications. In brief, the live case was a spectacle – a several minute infomercial without all the usual disclaimers.

While one could argue that the Today Show piece raised awareness of AF, this didn’t justify the use of a live case format. Live case presentations should be reserved exclusively for scientific and professional education settings; there is no place for this in the lay media.

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1. Larry Husten - March 25, 2010

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