I was very critical of the way surgical M&M conference was portrayed. Then I thought maybe 5 minutes wasn’t enough. Against my better judgment (again), I watched the whole show.
I stand by my first impression. The show is a typical medical soap opera filled with the usual array of doctors—the arrogant one, the beautiful one, the arrogant and beautiful one, the black guy, the Asian guy, the devious one, the vulnerable one, etc.
Forgetting about the acting and the heavy handed directing (extreme close-ups, focusing back and forth, quick cuts) and the funereal music, I will just point out a few errors and implausible medical situations.
A child bumps his head playing soccer and appears fine. The ED docs order an MRI “as a precaution.” (And you wonder why the cost of medical care is so high?) It shows a large brain tumor which the arrogant neurosurgeon declares is an emergency that requires surgery that same morning. The patient has uncontrollable bleeding and his blood pressure drops accompanied by blood squirting out of his head, which I have never seen happen especially since the kid was hypotensive. No code is called, but the neurosurgeon without even applying pressure or packing the bleeding area, opens the chest and does internal cardiac massage. Since there was no chance that would work, it didn’t. He is understandably upset. (More about this later)
A woman is brought in as a possible “suicide by car” because there were no skid marks. She is intubated but moving. The chief of trauma walks by, shines a flashlight in her eyes and declares that it was not a suicide, but rather a bomb went off in her head. He means she had a hemorrhage. She then undergoes surgery for a brain aneurysm. There is no way that he could have made that diagnosis with a flashlight. The patient would have had a CT scan anyway since even kids who have no signs or symptoms of brain injury get MRIs in that hospital.
There is a Korean doctor who is one of the worst stereotypes I have seen in recent memory. His command of the English language is limited to 3-word sentences and his bedside manner calls to mind Donald Trump. When asked whether a procedure he recommended was really necessary, he replied, “Not do—dead.” He was told to improve his English by the chief of surgery in a hallway conversation. He also grilled the med students without mercy. However, he is a genius at deep brain stimulation.
At the end, the neurosurgeon who lost the child on the table (I will omit the part where he has a flashback to his own childhood) has to face the music at (da-da-da-dum) M&M conference. It comes to light that the tumor was much worse than anticipated and the kid would have died anyway, but the crafty chief of surgery was holding back a card. He somehow found out that the child’s estranged father had Von Willebrand’s disease, which the neurosurgeon was unaware of. It usually is a very mild bleeding disorder and would not cause fatal hemorrhaging. The type that does cause hemorrhaging would surely have come to light with easy bruising or other issues in at 10-year-old boy. And wouldn’t the mother have known about this and told the surgeon? After all, the chief of surgery knew. The neurosurgeon was appropriately beside himself about this and refused to be consoled by the pretty one who no doubt he will hook up with in a future episode despite the fact that she is married.
In the final scene, which is one of the few believable parts of the show, the chief of trauma tells the neurosurgeon that a trauma case is on the way in and he needs to pull himself together.
As we have all been in the position of feeling terrible about a complication or death but had to go back to work the next day, that scene at least rang quite true.