Top 10 Things Medical Dramas Get Wrong About Hospitals



Top 10 Things Medical Dramas Get Wrong About Hospitals

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Richard Bush
There are a lot of things medical dramas get wrong about hospitals.
Ah, the magical, inaccurate world of television. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Things Medical Dramas Get Wrong About Hospitals.

For this list, we’re looking at the most glaring errors made by hospital-based TV dramas that no doubt left real medical experts tossing their stethoscopes at the screen in rage.

#10: Defibrillator Misuse

Chances are, a few of us probably wanted to be doctors just so we could whip out these electrified pads and shout “clear” when a patient’s heart stopped! You see it all the time on TV and in the movies. But it’s not quite as simple and all-encompassing as it may seem. Although defibrillator paddles can save people’s lives, they’re only used on certain kinds of heart arrhythmias. Using them to treat a patient whose heart has flatlined isn’t a thing. A heart that’s stopped has no electrical activity present to “reset”. Shocking, right?

#9: Paperwork Is a Big Deal

Just like in cop TV shows and movies, the importance - and time-consuming nature - of paperwork is often omitted from medical dramas. There’s a lot that goes into medical care behind the scenes, including dealing with insurance companies and pharmacies. And all of this needs to be properly logged and written up, something you don’t usually see hot-shot doctors toiling over on screen. Sure, it would be boring to sit and watch someone scribbling down notes for hours on end, but like we said, we’re here to debunk the fun! Sorry.

#8: Doctors at Bedsides

For dramatic effect, and usually to give the doctors a reason to get involved in juicy plot lines, TV shows will usually show a doctor or surgeon as being a patient’s primary care provider. They’ll constantly be going back and forth to their bedside to chat to them, check their vitals and tell them a joke or two. Realistically, this doesn’t happen. It’s usually nurses that do that job, and a bunch of other medical experts, like nutritionists and therapists. Also, if a doctor does come to speak to a patient, they’re seldom rude and fearmongering - otherwise they’d get fired. We’re looking at you, House!

#7: The High Cost of Health Care

Going back to the point about paperwork, one thing we hardly ever see in medical dramas is the paperwork from the patient’s side. We’re talking about the insurance paperwork they’d no doubt have to fill out before a big operation. Of course, along with insurance documents and big, risky producedres come hefty medical bills. It’s very rare that we see either the paperwork or sky-high bills being discussed by patients and staff. The patients can usually be heard saying something like “yes doctor, whatever it takes,'' which is fair enough, but surely you’d also be like “hang on a second, how much is this actually going to cost”?

#6: Doctor & Patient Relationships

It’s one of the big reasons we watch the shows, right? There always seems to be a love triangle popping up somewhere, and a lot of the time it’s between doctors and their patients - whether they’re dating each other or buying each other gifts. Let’s make this abundantly clear - none of that would be allowed in a real hospital. Doctors and patients cannot exchange gifts or have romantic relationships. Not only is it unprofessional on the doctor’s part, but it also has some legal consequences. Plus, it can compromise the overall care of the patient.

#5: Residents Don’t Usually Have Time to Socialize

Given things like the aforementioned paperwork and bedside care, hospital staff usually find themselves pretty busy while on a shift. And that means, unfortunately for viewers who like gossip, it’s very unlikely that they stand around doing nothing but socializing. Whether they’re talking about a football game that happened on the weekend or which member of staff they’re going to date next, hospital residents don’t have lots of free time on their hands. And if they did stand around chatting all the time, you can be sure someone would notice, and probably discipline them.

#4: Diagnosing Problems Can Be Hard

Medical professionals will diagnose your illness and then treat you for it for you, right? They make it look so simple on TV. In fact, it’s made out to be a little too simplistic, as far as the pros are concerned. True, common illnesses can be easy to diagnose, but on TV, you’ll frequently see complex illnesses diagnosed in a matter of seconds via quickfire idea sessions or simply some wavy lines connecting the dots on a whiteboard. Diagnosing a patient’s illness can take a long time, with doctors sometimes waiting around for multiple tests from numerous different medical professionals. The sudden epiphany moments are cool, but mostly BS.

#3: Interns Don’t Compete for a Diagnosis

Staying on the subject of diagnosis, many medical dramas frequently feature a budding, up and coming intern who’ll do anything to be heard, including shouting louder than everyone and trying to guess a patient's illness. Yeah, this doesn’t happen. Especially when you see residents or medical students trying to correct or one-up a physician. Even if you manage to get the answer right, your behaviour will not be tolerated. There is a clear hierarchy and code of conduct in a hospital. And even if you’re the smartest medical student around, it doesn’t give you the right to be rude.

#2: CPR Isn’t an Easy Fix

Like the defibrillator paddles mentioned earlier, CPR certainly has its place in the medical profession. But using it like a Swiss Army Knife for every single medical emergency, and expecting it to suddenly cure someone of their ailment, isn’t a thing. CPR can help keep blood flowing to the brain if the heart stops beating, but statistics on CPR actually saving lives are pretty low. Not only that, but whoever it is that’s lying on their back is likely to suffer cracked ribs and require a tube down their throat. And they won’t be miraculously opening their eyes after a few seconds, feeling right as rain, either.

#1: Every Doctor Isn’t All Knowing

Just like in engineering, computer science, or, well, just about any other type or occupation, medical professionals have their own specialties. TV likes to show non-surgeons saving the day by jumping in on a surgery, and highly-specialized surgeons giving impressive, lengthy diagnoses on mundane illnesses. And in the case of someone like Dr. Gregory House, well, he knows pretty much everything about everything. In reality, doctors and hospitals aren’t like that. Each doctor has their own field of focus, and they only treat specific ailments for that reason. A doctor not knowing the answer to a medical question in real life is a very common thing. And that’s why there’s more than one doctor per hospital!