Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Effects of a medical emergency team on reduction of incidence of and mortality from unexpected cardiac arrests in hospital: preliminary study

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 16 February 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:387

Rapid Response:

Re: Cover picture is a fake

The picture in question was chosen by the editorial team including
several qualified doctors.

According to the Science Photo Library, which supplied the image, the
and the patient in the photo are real although the situation may or may
not be.
Personally I think it isn't as the photograph is so close to the action
that if it was a real emergency situation the photographer would have
been very
However, that depends very much on the relationship between the staff,
patients and
photographer. This photographer, Larry Mulvehill, takes many hospital
so I assume he has a good relationship with the staff, and it would not
be in their interest
or his to be photographed making a mistake in any medical procedure.

It was taken in an American hospital (the article is by Australians
we are in the UK,
which gives it a rather international flavour)

The image is intentionally blurred - it's a well known technique used
or possibly by a designer on a Mac to suggest speed. It's virtually
impossible to
visually suggest speed in a still picture without either natural or
added blur.

Regarding the patient's colour, all the flesh tones in the image are
rather high
which is another photographer's trick to add contrast.

Perhaps Dr Buist could have supplied a picture, but he would have
to deliver a professional quality image
complete with model releases within a week of request. It's probable
that his work schedule would make this difficult,
and it is of course not viable to obtain model releases during an

Finally, cover images need to have impact, and for that reason are
rarely of a purely academic or scientifically descriptive nature. The
idea behind this
image primarily is to convey rush action rather than absolute detail.

Competing interests: No competing interests

22 February 2002
Jan Croot
Picture editor