* * Anonymous Doc

Friday, January 14, 2011

Comments have been split on previous posts where I whine about medical television shows that don't make any sense.

Nevertheless, I will do it again.

Off The Map.

Three young doctors go to a third-world country to practice medicine in a ramshackle clinic. From the makers of other medical shows that make no sense either.

I am happy to give them a pass on the biggest bit of ridiculousness, a myth perpetrated by pretty much every medical show that ever existed-- that medicine is medicine, and if you're one kind of doctor, you can be every kind of doctor. Surgery, internal medicine, OB/GYN, whatever, whether trained or not, you can do it all. The last time I was in an operating room was medical school. If someone handed me a scalpel and told me to perform surgery, I would only be marginally more capable of doing this than a bus driver. I know enough anatomy to not do anything insanely stupid, but that doesn't mean I can remove someone's appendix and not kill them in the process.

But, like I said, I'll give them a pass on that, because otherwise, I admit, they wouldn't have much of a show.

Let's start with my favorite stupidity. Performing CPR involves actual pushing on the actual chest of the patient. I get that they don't want to injure the actors, but use a dummy or something. Because it is a disservice to the universe to repeatedly show people performing utterly preposterous CPR that would revive absolutely no one. The actress on this show mimed it. I don't even think her hands touched the patient. It was improv class CPR. Anyone who tries that at home will be left with a dead patient. Sorry.

Wrong tuberculosis masks. Not going to protect anyone from anything. And he ripped it off anyway when he had to make his big speech.

And speaking of the tuberculosis family, what kind of attitude was "you're a doctor, make them take the medicine or don't come back" ! You can't make anyone do anything. You're a doctor, not a dictator. You can explain the benefits, but you can't force someone to take medicine against their will. You can't.

Taking a patient to dump his wife's ashes in a lake, when he's supposed to be med-evac'd in a helicopter off the island. Let's see... was this an emergency, or not? If was not an emergency, why the urgent med-evac? If it was an emergency, no matter how tear-jerking his story is, you need to get him to a hospital. He can come back and dump her ashes later. It is extremely poor practice to let your patient die on a river adventure to dump his wife's ashes when there's a helicopter waiting to take him to safety.

Taking your own asthma inhaler out of your purse and giving it to a patient-- without, I don't know, wiping it off(!), is unsanitary. Also, giving a patient an inhaler without using a translator to explain to her what it is and how to use it is pretty pointless. I know they didn't want to have to translate everything, the entire episode, but just have the translator standing there and pretend, just so we know you're not sending her off with a weird medical device she has no idea how to use.

Coconut water as a blood replacement. I'm going to trust Google on this one and give them a pass, but this is not something they teach us in medical school.

Scalpel on the zipline. The doctor pulled out what was basically a paring knife. I think it's what I used in high school to dissect a frog. This is not a knife you would use to cut a patient's skin out of a zipline. Sorry.

And, finally, the crazy story the doctor played by Meryl Streep's daughter told about how she ended up on the island. Went something like this: "I was moonlighting, hadn't slept in 72 hours, was on duty, sent someone home with bacterial meningitis, he died, I got kicked out of residency, and so here I am."

First-- so you were grossly violating work hour limits? Who is letting you moonlight? What hospital administrator is allowing you to sign up for three consecutive days of work?

Second-- you're the resident, not the attending. Why are you on duty alone? How are you the only one responsible for sending someone home with meningitis? Where was the attending? He didn't catch it either?

Third-- they're not going to kick you out of residency for that, unless you've already done a whole bunch of other terrible stuff. AND IF YOU'VE DONE A WHOLE BUNCH OF OTHER TERRIBLE STUFF, WHY DO THE DOCTORS IN THE JUNGLE WANT TO TRUST YOU WITH ANY OF THEIR PATIENTS?

That's all I've got...


  1. This piece of rotting shit makes Grey's Anatomy look like high art. One of the worst I've ever seen, and it had nothing to do with the ridiculous transgressions with respect to medicine. (Although, when that scene with the med-evac copter and the visit to the magic pond came on, I knew I'd be reading about it on this blog.)

  2. Ahhahaha. Love it.

    However, I did mostly like the show, the situations were unique compared to the ER hospital setting traditionally used.

    I couldn't watch her cut him off the zip line though.

    The coconut thing was fascinating. I may have to Google that.


  3. I didn't watch it, the commercials made it seem over the top, and I'm up too early in the morning... but I REALLY enjoyed reading your synopsis! Love it! Probably won't ever be watching that unless I'm sleepless and nothing else is on TV.

    I like Grey's. I like to pick out the craziness in Grey's that would not ever happen. I work in healthcare, but I'm not a provider or clinician, nor do I have the desire.

    As always, I love your blog.

  4. I knew as soon as I saw the commercials for it that you would be commenting at some point. I looked forward to hearing what you thought. Ha! Just as I suspected, too!

  5. o.m.g.
    I complained the entire time to my boyfriend how FAKE and STUPID this show is. I turned it off when the doctor was like "NO WE MUST TAKE HIM TO THE POND".

    I actually got angry and turned the tv off.

  6. I saw a billboard for this and instantly knew that I would never watch it. You're right on about the "do it all" stuff. If the writers want something like that they should draft a show about a 1950's GP, back when they did "do it all." That hasn't been the case for decades.

  7. I don't watch a ton of TV...but your recap of this shoe had me howling...thank you for the good belly laugh!