nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
See here for more discussion.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

For The Record: Medical Reality TV Shows Have Nothing To Do With Reality

I confess:  I watched Dr. Kildare as a kid, and loved it.  But I knew at the time it was entertainment.

My family knows that when House, MD or ER comes on, I have to leave the room.  They drive me nuts.

And while most people recognize intelllectually that these programs have nothing to do with the reality of how medical care occurs, I believe that they secretly imagine it to be so.

But it aint.  That includes St. Elsewhere, Scrubs, HawthoRNe, Gray's Anatomy, Marcus Welby, M*A*S*H, Quincy, Doogie Howser, Northern Exposure, Nip/Tuck, Royal Pains, and Nurse Jackie.

[I found a list of 55 medical shows that have appeared on US TV.  The public's fascination with this soap opera stuff is really amazing.]

Even worse, are the "documentary" shows that follow real patients, selectively, as they move through the medical system.  While ostensibly featuring real situations, they are all extremes (the boring and mundane parts--i.e., those parts that won't make money for the media--get edited out) that tease the viewer with a little blood-and-guts, but not too much, and create an artificial atmosphere of drama, during a time when serious work is needed.

To any of you doctors and nurses who engage in this stuff, shame on you for being narcissistic attention-seekers, and using the confusion and desperaton of suffering patients (who are not really competent to consent at that time) to highlight your "wonderfulness."  It's unseemly at best.

Worst of all, I have deep concerns about the invasion of privacy, and the willingness to shed patient confidentiality with a consent form, an issue discussed by bioethicists:
“People don’t expect to be filmed when they go to the hospital,’’ says George Annas, author of “The Rights of Patients’’ and a professor of health law and bioethics at Boston University. “You didn’t come there to get filmed. You came there to get your illness or injury treated, and they’re taking pictures of you and making them public.’’

Arthur L. Caplan, who heads the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, says there is “a certain degree of inevitable exploitation when you’ve got somebody who has just been through a traumatic and unexpected event and you’re there taping.’’
And finally, these filmmakers are making tons of money as the public watches the pain and suffering of others.

Why don't we just film people torturing pets or getting hit by trains...oh, wait...we do that.

Doc D

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