In a research project that we all wish we could get funding for, medical student Matthew J Czarny has ‘systematically analysedGrey’s anatomy and House in relation to their portrayal of bioethical and professionalism issues.

Surprise, surprise, he discovered (especially in House) that the shows weren’t always depicting best practice…

Consent was apparently the topic area that suffered least – only about 40% of patients were consented appropriately. In fact, (don’t try this at home) there were plenty of examples of clinicians trying desperately to convince patients to change their mind.
Oh, don’t forget about sexual misconduct either. Grey’s prefers to pair up Interns with their patients, whilst house tend to go for the Senior-Junior Doctor relationship.

In most cases of suspected malpractice, the clinicians involved usually get away without punishment too.
Don’t let this put you off enjoying a good bit of House at home – just probably best not to try out his methods in your OSCE.
However, there is one area where the TV professionals appear to outshine their real-life counterparts. It seems that our American actor friends are very good on the compassionate caring side of things.
For his next project, Czarny plans to see how these portrayals of professionals can affect public perceptions of health care services. I can’t wait.
Tom
You can view the original research at the BMJ (Athens / personal subscription required), or just read New
Scientist’s interpretation
.