Monday, February 25, 2013

Dr. House- A Distortion of Reality

I must admit that I find Dr. House entertaining despite knowing that much of it is far fetched. I mean, who typically confirms an exotic diagnosis by means of an instantaneous invasive procedure or laboratory result over the course of minutes?

Here is a paper published in The American Journal of Medicine titled "Dr. House, TV and Reality..."  

French investigators analyzed 18 episodes of House.  Main patient characters were 12 men (66%) and 6 women (33%); the average age was 31 (22-38) years. There were 225 investigations or interventions reported, averaging 14 (9-15) per episode, representing one examination every 3.1 (2.9-4.8) minutes. The most frequently prescribed investigations were magnetic resonance imaging (MRI; 13; 72%), blood sample (11; 61%), and biopsy (10; 56%). The most frequent interventions were surgery, anti-infectious treatments, and steroid treatments (9 each; 50%). Two patients (11%) died. 

So?

Medicine as practiced by Dr. House is a distortion of reality. The patient demographics are skewed (towards younger populations), the number and speed of diagnostic interventions are exaggerated, and the outcomes are overly optimistic.

Although entertaining, this program can be confusing to the public and result in unrealistic diagnostic and treatment expectations.

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