Watching TV…

I have a confession to make. Back when I was in college, I was big fan of medical dramas. I watched everything from House to Grey’s Anatomy to Scrubs, and I tuned in faithfully every week. I knew that these shows probably didn’t reflect the reality of working in a hospital, and I had some vague sense that the medicine was probably crap, but I didn’t really know any better. I enjoyed the (sometimes trashy) drama, the (sometimes half-baked) ethical dilemmas, and the (usually exaggerated) characters. It was all good fun, and with my growing interest in medicine as a career, I was naturally drawn to them.

For a while, during 1st and 2nd year, I continued to watch my favorites. It was even fun to play along with House, for example, and try to guess the diagnosis. It wasn’t until about half way through my 2nd year of medical school that I began to understand enough of the medicine for the utter wrong-ness of these kinds of shows to start grating on my nerves. At first, it was just the minor gripe here or there. Soon, I was ranting almost constantly throughout each episode. Finally, I just couldn’t take it anymore, and I had to categorically ban myself from any further medical drama consumption. But it didn’t stop there. Apparently, fake medicine pervades cop dramas, action flicks, war stories, and just about every other genre out there. Oh med school, how you’ve ruined a perfectly good way to waste my time!

8 thoughts on “Watching TV…

  1. I am not sure what most screenwriters do, but after reading Fiona’s comment, I will say that the screenwriters have a physics professor advising them because they care about getting the science right. And for that, I give them a lot of respect, even if the physics isn’t PhD level. (Hell, I’m an engineering student, and I get most of it.)

    Luckily, I think that the diagnoses in House that I’ve seen are so “out there” and so weird that the show probably has not misinformed anybody.

    • I haven’t watched House in a long time, and most of it was from before I knew anything about medicine. However, from what I can remember, many of his cases end up being “uncommon presentations” of common things (or at least things that we learn about in medical school).

      I actually had a lecture once where the lecturer took 3-4 cases from House and had us form real differentials based on the history/signs and symptoms. It was pretty funny to see what the show’s answers were at the end.

      BTW, House’s whole back story with the leg makes absolutely no sense. DVTs are extremely common and, on their own, don’t cause any real problems except maybe some leg pain and swelling. The problem is that part of the clot can dislodge, travel through the venous circulation, go through the right side of the heart, and end up lodged in the pulmonary artery or its branches, which can be fatal. I’ve never heard of anyone getting their leg muscles infarcted from a DVT, since they are by definition on the venous side and not the arterial side…

  2. LOL. The most absurd thing is that no one calls it angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor in real life, we all say ACE inhibitor. I feel like in medical drama they want to sound important and pronounce everything the long way when in reality we use abbreviation all the time. Or when people do the opposite (“You’re DDx-ing right now?!?!” seriously, who does that?) and it’s even more absurd.

  3. LOVE the image. soooo funny. Shows like that are always bs. My sister studies physics and when I’m watching the big bang theory with her, the stuff is usually true, but it’s all like A level and bachelor stuff, not PhD like it should be. It totally makes me laugh. I also find I can only watch american crime shows now because I study criminology and am like, yeah there’s no way that would happen in real life if I watch a UK crime show.

    • I think that, in the end, we really just have to come to terms with the fact that screenwriters have not gone to medical school, studied criminology, or gotten PhDs in physics. And really, I don’t blame them for getting things wrong. I just wish that it wouldn’t completely destroy my suspension of disbelief when I pick up on a mistake @.@

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