Just when you thought it was safe to turn on your TV…
Just when you thought your TV show had hired a medical consultant…
Just when your neighbours thought you had stopped yelling at the screen…
It’s time for part II of ‘Meredith Grey is not real life’.
House MD: Where are the nurses, allied health professionals and ward clerks?
I have already given House a hard time in my last article but considering it’s a repeat offender, it deserves a repeat mention. Aside from the fact that House and his team of ultra-talented doctors appear to be the only physicians working at Princeton-Plainsborough, they are flying solo. The nurses portrayed in this series are not only few but they seem to only serve to give House dirty looks. Real life is much more diverse. We all work in multi-disciplinary teams where each professional brings a special set of skills. the nurse for example, may not do surgery, but equally luckily, the surgeon will not demonstrate physical therapy. It takes a village to heal a patient.
The book ‘Blindsighted’ by Karin Slaughter: Not everyone cracks a chest
In this series of books focussing on small town coroner/paediatrician where an unnerving number of murders take place, the drama seems to win out over accuracy. In the first book of the series, the protagonist opens a young woman’s chest to give internal cardiac massage. Of course, she survives. TV shows, films or books often make it sound like we are all ready to give anything a go. In reality, doctors are not. We make calculated, educated decisions not just based on knowledge but our own skills and specialties. And when a situation is above our skill level, we call someone who knows what they’re doing.
Every TV show/medical movie ever: If the supply closet is rocking, don’t come knocking
Just no. There are rumours of hospital staff shall we say letting off steam, but most definitely not with the frequency of TV shows. If we were all at it as often as the doctors of Grey’s Anatomy are, there would be no time to get work done.
Every TV show ever: We all hangout after work at the pub over the road from our major teaching hospital
Going back to this concept of time, we are tired. Most of us at the end of the day just want to go home, eat food that is not from the hospital cafeteria and sleep. Before you are a fully fledged specialist, we race home to study for specialist exams. Basically, we are boring and responsible. However, when the time does come, we do know how to have fun and hang out with the people you spend most of your life with.
Grey’s Anatomy: Relationships with patients are frowned upon. Especially if they leave you a large inheritance.
Back to Izzy and her drive line cutting, doctors are held up to a very strict code of conduct and having a relationship with a patient is a major no-no. We are in a particularly privileged position, the patient in a very vulnerable position and these rules exist to protect the patient from being unduly influenced. In Australia, even receiving gifts from patients is subject to strict rules and require reporting of the gift to your hospital.
House MD & Grey’s Anatomy: You can’t be rude to patients or other staff and expect to get away with it
From the time Cristina Yang screwed up and organ donation request to every time Gregory House interacted with another human being, the tolerance for being rude is pretty low. Especially to patients, no matter what the circumstances.Patients (rightly) complain about doctors (or other staff who are rude to them) and increasingly, within the medical profession, we are becoming less tolerant of poor behaviour from our colleagues. Whatever the situation or reason, the patient suffers when behaviour is poor and that is just not okay.
Catch Me If You Can: I concur, you can’t pretend to be a doctor.
Ironically, one of my favourite TV shows is Suits about a guy pretending to be a lawyer which I’m sure is pretty unlikely. Pretending to be a doctor would be tough. Even as a fully qualified doctor, any time you want to work somewhere or perform a new procedure, boards or committees scrutinise you very closely to ensure that you are who you say you are. Rocking up and nodding along sagely with a senior clinician will net you a trip to the police station.
Casino Royale: After a cardiac arrest, James Bond is back to saving the world
Mr Bond, it pains me to tell you off. Especially after that scene in that film. And you always get your man. But let me be clear here, people do not have a cardiac arrest, shock themselves (sort of) and then just clean up and carry on with their day. If you survive a cardiac arrest, you can be sure that you have booked yourself a hospital stay to find out what happened and how to stop it from happening again.
Heartbreakers: Melissa George was never covered in bone dust
To be fair, I have not yet watched Heartbreakers, based on real-life transplant surgeon and author Dr Kathy Magliato. In her interview about how she saw real-life heart surgery, George says that she was covered in bone dust after a tough day of scrubbing in. No she wasn’t. I promise you, she wasn’t. Heart surgeons in particular pride ourselves on being neat and tidy for one. Secondly the sternum opens without much fanfare at all. Maybe she was gunning for ratings? Either way, it’s generally not as glamorous, dramatic or messy as TV and TV stars make it seem.
Tell me what else drives you mad – I’m sure there are hundreds of them!