Wednesday, January 7, 2009
United States president-elect Barack Obama has chosen Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a medical correspondent from the American television station CNN, to be the next United States Surgeon General. Gupta, also a neurosurgeon, was reported to be chosen because of his background in broadcasting and skills in communication. He is currently the host of House Call, a program on CNN, a columnist for Time Magazine, a contributor to CBS News, and also a part time worker at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. He will likely leave all of these positions to serve as US Surgeon General.
Dr. Joseph Heyman of the American Medical Association supported Gupta, stating “If chosen, Dr. Gupta’s communication skills and medical knowledge could be a boon to the new administration’s health system reform efforts.” Conversely, Doctors Steven Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice stated that the next Surgeon General would need to “…demonstrate skills that are too often missing in medical news on TV: skepticism about the science and a careful analysis of both the benefits and harms of medical care.”
According to reports by sources close to the discussions, Gupta met with Barack Obama on November 25 in Chicago to discuss the position. He later met with several advisors to the president-elect, including Thomas A. Daschle of the US Department of Health and Human Services. He was reported to tell Obama that he wanted the Surgeon General position. Gupta declined to comment about the situation yesterday, but did state that he plans to accept Obama’s choice.