As a child I grew up enjoying House M.D. but, as time goes by, all the issues I find comparing what happens in the TV series and what happens in real life hospitals in Portugal keep lowering my level of enjoyment while watching it.
The opinion I will express here is based on what I have experienced living in Portugal and being a physiotherapy intern in portuguese hospitals. There may be a different reality somewhere in the United States of America, where the series’ action takes place.
When my knowledge was barely enough to recognize what a doctor does within the walls of a hospital, I believed that everything happening in Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital represented the reality. As I grew older and I started watching other TV series, such as Grey’s Anatomy, I realized things weren’t that simple.
What is represented in House M.D. is a team of doctors that, even though are part of the Diagnostic Medicine team, perform surgeries and everything else a patient needs while hospitalized.
The team work that is involved in a real life hospital (at least in a portuguese one) is much better represented in Grey’s Anatomy, as different specialities come together to treat a patient that needs different interventions, instead of the prevalence of a single team performing every task necessary, no matter which specialty it usually belongs to. Looking at you, Wilson, “oncologist”.
Besides that issue, which is the one that makes me unwilling to keep watching House M.D. since I feel I am not learning much about real life interventions, there are also the ethical ones.
It is one thing to give a patient a treatment when it is the only option you have to improve its situation, even though there may be some uncertainty about its diagnosis. It is different when other possibilities have not yet been excluded and doctors keep trying treatment after treatment. What I keep noticing in the Diagnostic Medicine team’s meetings is a discussion until they reach a possible diagnosis. After that, the possibility is investigated by either the patient being tested or being treated. Only after the result of the treatment (usually a decline in the patient’s situation), there is another meeting in which the team tries to find an alternative diagnosis. The question I ask is: why not start by thinking about every single possibility instead of interrupting immediately the meetings everytime a plausible one appears?
Even though that may bring some concerns, the worst issue I have with House M.D. is situations in which the patient’s decisions are not respected. For example, in DNR (season 1, episode 9) the patient signs a do-not-resuscitate order and is intubated anyway.
I am tired of unrealistic medicine TV shows and movies. They lose their appeal to me and I am sure I am not the only one feeling this way.