Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Oh, no. Not another medical TV drama


A show called "The Night Shift" has surfaced on NBC. The pilot is available for viewing on line. I'll post the link in a minute.

But first, let me warn you. Here's what happened in the first 13 minutes of the show.

The hero doctor, named TC, awakens in jail after a bad night, and while riding his motorcycle to work he comes across a roadside accident.

A man impaled by a tree branch is in shock. Paramedics are in attendance, but don't know what to do.

The doctor suggests removing the branch, which he promptly does. Blood pours out of the wound.

ED Doc clamps renal artery at accident scene
The medic says, "He's gonna bleed out."

TC says, "No, he's not. His renal artery is cut. I'm gonna clamp it." How he knows it's the renal artery I couldn't tell you. He places a clamp through the 3" long impalement wound and the bloody field.

Then he makes an incision at the umbilicus and puts in a peritoneal dialysis catheter, which fortunately the ambulance crew has handy. They also have an empty IV bag, which is used to collect the blood for auto-transfusion.

Did I tell you that this is all taking place on the ground by the highway?

On to the ED.

A two-week-old baby arrives in presumptive renal failure. Another ED doc subdues a large violent man with a "sleeper hold" reminiscent of Worldwide Wrestling. A man positioned on his hands and knees is having a scrotal laceration sutured.

Of course, there's a blossoming love affair between TC and a beautiful female colleague who both pretend they aren't hot for each other.

A new intern was juggling some things he picked out of the "lost and found" box to try to impress a woman doctor when he found out the box actually contained objects removed from people's rectums.

The hospital is having financial trouble. At a meeting, our hero insults a realistically smarmy administrator who told him a patient could have been transferred by pointing out that he wasn't a doctor.

While on break, the docs pass the time by playing basketball just outside the ED where a number of hospital personnel seem to be socializing. Perhaps this could be why the hospital is losing money.

TC puts the two-week-old baby on hemodialysis without consulting pediatrics or nephrology, mentioning how vascular access was obtained, or speaking to the parents, who apparently were not present.

That's about all I could take.

If after all that, you really must have the link, it is here.

35 comments:

artiger said...

Please. No. More. Pathetic.

theterrymurray said...

Sounds like the love child of "Gray's Anatomy" (aka "Gray's Boinkathon") and "ER" and "House" - failing hospital of Gray's Anatomy, basketball from ER, arrogant doctor from "House." I'll give it a miss. Thanks for the warning!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...looks like a battle to the bottom to see whether this is actually worse than Black Box. Which would be difficult, although not impossible, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

I'm a patient and won't watch TV any more, precisely due to what artiger said above. I'm not Einstein but even this insults my puny brains' logic processors.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why TV writers feel the need to do this. Real life is much more interesting than anything their naive "creativity" will ever come up with.

Anonymous said...

The "lost and found" box feature in Scrubs, back in the day.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Thanks for all the comments. It will be interesting to see how long the show lasts. Never underestimate the gullibility of the American TV viewer.

Melissa B said...

After many years of nursing practice, I have a whole list of 'you wouldn't believe this ....' - as I imagine most practitioners do. The difference is that these things happened -- and they make sense when discussed ----unlike "The Night Shift".
I have trouble watching medical dramas ---they are just too far removed from fact. This sounds like another one that is even further removed. Thanks for the warning - I will skip this one, for sure.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Melissa, you are welcome. I feel it is my duty to inform.

George Gasman said...

Sigh. So pathetic. Is this what people think we really do? Back when I was half the curmudgeon I am now, ER was a new thing, and everyone praised its medical accuracy. Accuracy? Everyone who has seen an aortic aneurysm repaired in the emergency room raise your hand.

I thought so...

Feh.

Vamsi Aribindi said...

Heh,

The thing about these medical TV shows is that they take two or three actual medical incidents, add 10 pounds of drama, and cut out anything not in service of said drama. I wouldn't be surprised if one or two things is actually true- the question is, which parts?

To that end, is that field-auto-transfusion technique an actual thing? From what I understand, in Iraq and Afghanistan they did actually use empty bags of saline to take whole blood from troops with matching blood types in the tent next door to where they were doing emergency surgery. I wonder if they auto-transfused using similar techniques.

Also, RE: that insane stunt with the renal artery, I've heard that in Vietnam, advanced Air Force and Army medics were trained to do field surgery- open up patients and clamping arteries and stabilizing patients- until evacs could show up to take them to field hospitals (From what I've heard, these brave Corpman and Pararescuemen were the progenitors of PAs). Are our military medical personnel in the Middle East carrying out similar techniques? In other words, would it ever make sense in dire conditions to open up a patient further in the field?

Respectfully,
Vamsi Aribindi

Libby said...

I've started watching it and it is lame. I certainly hope that San Antonio paramedics are better trained than they were depicted! I certainly wouldn't feel confident hearing my professional rescuers say they don't know what to do! (um, how about "load & go"???).
I must admit that although I was watching for it, the juggling bit almost got a chuckle out me.
I like medical shows, but I'll take a pass on this one, it didn't even capture me enough to finish watching the pilot. The non-medical part has to have a good story-line and be well written.
There is a book about "ER" that is written by a doctor, he got a kick out of it and in the book he discussed the medical aspects-comparing reality to how it is depicted on ER.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

George, I'm with you about "ER." In the only episode I ever watched, the ED doc had a nurse call OB to get forceps so he could deliver a baby. That did it for me.

Vamsi, it's one thing to take blood from a donor and transfuse it right away. It's quite another to take blood from an abdomen in the field and give it back to the patient. I have not heard of medics doing field surgery. Even if they had done it, I doubt that they were clamping hemorrhaging renal arteries through 3 inch incisions.

Libby, I agree. "The Night Shift" is lame and unwatchable.

artiger said...

What's the difference between "Scrubs" and "The Night Shift"?

Scrubs is supposed to be a comedy.

Hope said...

Haha! The majority of us know that the true Night Shift in most hospitals generally means prescriptions for benadryl, GERD and sleep aids, and triaging drunks and drug seekers from the ED. Ridiculous, but let's face it, the average American viewer is sucking down the Kardashians and Housewives of Beverly Hills with a little Dancing with the Stars and The Voice thrown in there, so this show seems like a mild improvement.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Hope, I disagree. I think most medical TV shows (especially over the top ones like "The Night Shift") can cause harm. They promote false expectations among the general public. For example, all diagnoses are made in less than 1 hour. They misinform. An ED MD can clamp a renal artery in the field and start dialysis on a 2-week-old baby in the ED. They usually feature stereotypes. This show made med students look like buffoons, and its doctors are all cocky, horny, and never wrong. At least the Asian MD in The Night Shift was not a caricature. I could go on.

Hope said...

I understand your point and share in your frustration regarding the perpetuation of stereotypes. But I guess I feel that all TV and movies promote false expectations among the general public that are harmful in some way, not just medical dramas. "Sleepless in Seattle," "When Harry Met Sally" and "The Princess Bride" are on every woman's favorite movie list, yet these movies create fantastical expectations of romance. John Cusack probably single-handedly ruined countless females's young adult lives ;). Reality TV shows like the Kardashians and Housewives make living in Hollywood look glamorous by glorifying the most material/hedonistic/unfulfilling parts of human nature, and as a result project these vapid American stereotypes to the rest of the world. I was in a pub in Manchester, England once, and a girl asked me if I lived in California and could get her on the show "The Hills" because she thought she would fit in there and thought all Americans lived this way and knew Lauren Conrad! Movies like the "Bourne Identity" series or very bloody action flicks like "Kill Bill" and "Rambo" give young boys totally warped views on violence and retribution. And lest we go into the waifs that plaster the covers of magazines, promoting BMIs of less than 18 as "beautiful."

I guess my point is more that there are consumers everywhere who will be influenced by a variety of media forms on every topic. The key is to seeing it all as entertainment and recognizing the discrepancy between fantasy and reality. Which, as you've pointed out, the general American public overall seems unable to do.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Thanks for your comments. I can't argue with you. I just wonder how the doctors who are technical advisers on these shows can put out this garbage with a straight face. As Artiger said, I could understand of it was billed as comedy. I suppose it's money, but how long is
"The Night Shift" going to last. Stupid plots, shallow characters.

Les said...

I'm glad I don't own a T.V.. Years ago I used to watch C.S.I. but my scientist brain eventually rejected it. My little internal Scotty kept screaming "Bu' Captain she canna ta' anymore" up to my little internal Captain Kirk.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Les, I am with you. Other than sports and a very rare movie, I don't watch any TV either. The medical shows are getting more and more over the top as evidenced by this latest abomination. I only know about them when readers tip me off.

Anonymous said...

I guess only thinking people don't watch TV because I don't either. I get my "jollies" out of helping support groups, volunteering, or reading medical research.

Speaking of which, Skep, I think we need to separate medical research into original research - double blind, etc. type things and meta studies that all some one did was read some research papers and gave their opinion. Any blog ideas on that one?

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Anon, there is sort of an unofficial separation of the two types of studies already. There are several systems that people use to grade evidence. Everyone knows the randomized trials are a cut above reviews and meta-analyses.

Anonymous said...

I could only take about the frist 20 minutes of that show and even then it was a stretch for me too. It ALL gives the public a false idea of what medical care is really like. I couldn't do Scrubs ro Grays Anatomy either - at least House had some challenge to it with the differential dx offerings . . .!!

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Anon, thanks. Looks like we agree. I could never get into House though. He was too smug.

Anonymous said...

Longtime writer. Med student. I have often questioned the feasability of writing a medical drama which makes no sacrifices to the science while avoiding or lancing the worst of the genre's tropes, while delivering a solid story. I am still unsettled. Few great examples exist. In fact I wouldn't venture to put forth any examples to this discerning group. So, fess up, have any of you got favorite medical genre films or tv shows? -Jack

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Not afraid to show my age, I really enjoyed MASH, the movie, and to a lesser extent, the TV show. It didn't try to sensationalize the medical stuff. It was funny. The characters were well-developed. None of the above can be said about any of the recent medical TV shows.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply! I had forgotten MASH and I agree for the most part, though I think the film suffers from an overstated pacifism. Have you seen The Citadel with Robert Donat (1938)? It pretty artfully depicts the fall of an dealist physician into disillusionment and cynicism. You'd like it! There is even a botched surgery at the hands of an incompetent good old boy.

-Jack

Skeptical Scalpel said...

I haven't seen The Citadel. I'll try to find it somewhere. Thanks.

Lynn Elliott said...

I'm wondering who their medical consultant is, IF they even have one, which I cannot imagine who would sign off on this crap on Night Shift.

As a retired 20 years paramedic, I can remember one night being at the Trauma Center in Memphis and all of us, paramedics, nurses and doctors crowded around the small TV in Med Com watching ER. We actually liked it, despite a lot of inaccurate stuff. This show is so inaccurate my friends who are NOT in the medical field are questioning it. Calling ME to ask "is that true?".

I used to answer my phone on Thursday nights saying, "ER IS ON WHAT DO YOU WANT?" Because despite it's inaccuracies there was George Clooney distracting me.

I can barely contain myself while watching the OMG-that-is-such-bs on The Night Shift. It could probably be a good show if they'd clean up their crap. I only ask of my TV shows that the people be good-looking enough to distract me for a couple of hours a day. This show is so badly done that I can't even be distracted by cute guys.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Lynn, thanks for the comments. I have not seen this show since I wrote the post. I can't believe it is still on the air.

Anonymous said...

Hey Doc. Have you watched CRITICAL? a UK produced tv show.

http://www.sky.com/tv/show/critical

I would like to know your opinion about it

Skeptical Scalpel said...

I have not seen it. I will try to take a look at it. Thanks.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

I was unable to register to view an episode online because I am not a Sky customer.

Isabelcatherine Morris said...

Great post. Thank you. My television has not been turned on since early February. No need for me to elaborate.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Thanks. I'm with you. Except for some sports and an occasional movie, I don't watch TV.

Post a Comment