Thursday, April 24, 2008

Medicine on TV

So I was watching an episode of a TV drama and there occurred a medical emergency which played out so poorly, I shrieked, "WHAT?!" at the TV. A very fit young man is in the hospital after being beaten up. One minute he's talking, then suddenly the EKG monitor (which an assault victim with no history of cardiac problems would not have) alarms and IMMEDIATELY a doctor comes running in saying "He's crashing. Get me O2 and an ambu bag." The monitor completely flatlines (wrong) and a couple more staff members (nurses, possibly) run in. The MD starts totally ineffective, fake-ass chest compressions with the patient still up at a 30 degree angle in the bed. The nurse with the ambu bag gives a few breaths, then caresses the patient's chin. Huh?

Oh it was so bad. I'm sure police and lawyers get riled by horribly inaccurate portrayals of their professions too. A guy asked me once which TV shows were the most medically accurate. The best one is Trauma: Life in the ER but that's a documentary show so it really doesn't count. I haven't watched it in a while, but ER was pretty decent in that the actors had practiced doing fake intubations, chest compressions, and other procedures. I recall as well that the treatments they rattled off by and large were accurate for the patient's condition. Of course, like all medical shows, the doctors did tons of stuff that really nurses do.

Scrubs is rather bad, both in the wildly inaccurate depiction of medicine and in severely dropping off in quality after the third season. Don't even get me started on House.

And then there's my favorite quack doctor. No not Dr. Nick of The Simpsons. I'm speaking of Dr. Spacemen (SPA-CHE-MEN) on 30 Rock. A couple episodes back Dr. Spacemen (wonderfully played by Chris Parnell) rushes in to see an unconscious man who he instantly and correctly identifies as being in a diabetic coma. After some ineffectual bungling, Alec Baldwin's character says, "Couldn't you just, you know, inject something right into his heart?"

Dr. Spacemen, with a look of concern and pity, responds, "I'd love to, but we have no way of knowing where the heart is. You see, every human is different."

BWAHAHAHA! Thank goodness for Tivo so I can pause and rewind because they weren't done. Spacemen grabs the phone and says, "Is it 411 or 911? [pause] New York. Uh, diabetes repair I guess?"

Oh how I love, love, love Diabetes Repair.


  1. I love the ep when Dr. Spacemen outlined Jenna's weight-loss options ... "How important is tooth retention to you?"



  2. Was the young guy who flatlined on L&O:SVU? Also, you shouldn't watch My Name is Earl b/c they just brought him out of a coma through a combination of karmic payback for good deeds and totally smashing him in the head.

  3. Yes. And Earl is intentionally wacky so it gets a pass. Because my stamp of approval means something.


  5. Whoa that's a lot of pressure, all those capitol letters. I'll endeavor to live up to your expectations.