9 Times TV Shows Got It Wrong About Nursing (And Medicine In General)
Medical TV shows can make for some entertaining TV, but they’re not exactly known for their accuracy. While the rest of the world eats this stuff up, a lot of medical TV shows leave real-life nurses and physicians shaking their heads.
1) Doctors and Nurses Working Outside Their Specialties
Shows like ER and Grey’s Anatomy have a tendency to show surgeons performing just about any procedure imaginable. Then, of course, there’s House seeing walk-in general practice patients, although there’s an in-universe explanation for it. In real life, physicians — as well as many nurses — have specialties. A cosmetic surgeon isn’t going to deliver a baby or remove an appendix, and a general surgeon won’t be the one handling a delicate brain surgery. The variety of things you’ll see physicians and nurses do on TV is squarely in the realm of fiction.
2) Employed Physicians or Nurses with Serious Drug Addictions
If you’re ever watched House, you know that the title character is a functional Vicodin addict, a condition that he developed due to prescription painkillers after a surgery on his leg. In real life, Dr. House would have been pushed into rehabilitation for his addiction, as practicing under the influence would be a danger to his patients. The same goes for the titular character of Nurse Jackie. While it’s true that there are many opiate addicts who can function day to day while under the influence of narcotics, addiction is taken very seriously in the medical world. Plus, many nurses are subject to drug testing, so chances are, the addiction would be discovered at some point.
3) Physicians Doing Everything Themselves
On TV, doctors are often shown carrying out testing or procedures that, in real life, would be handled by either a nurse or a different specialist. For example, Dr. House is often shown conducting radiological testing, which would almost certainly be done in the radiology department of a real hospital.
4) Insulting or Disrespecting Your Patient
House is the biggest culprit on this front. The title character is an absolute jackass, and in real life, that kind of behavior toward patients simply wouldn’t fly. Even the doctors and nurses with the most questionable bedside manner don’t outright insult their patients to their faces. In the real world, we act like adults.
5) Everyone who goes into cardiac arrest recovers after CPR and an electric shock.
In real life, CPR has a high risk of failing. While some cardiac arrest patients do come back, many don’t — a reality that’s rarely seen on TV. Also, not everyone can be resuscitated with defibrillation. While it’s still a good idea for everyday people to consider learning CPR, and it can save lives, the majority of people who undergo CPR outside of a hospital environment do not survive, and it has a survival rate of about 10%.