Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Monday Mornings: The second episode

Since my review of the first episode of the new medical drama “Monday Mornings” generated quite a few comments, some of which thought the show had promise, I thought I’d give it another chance.

Although I have started to like a couple of the characters, particularly Dr. Sung and the sassy Dr. Napur, the medical portions of the show continue to disappoint. Dr. Sung said his evolving catch-phrase “Not do—dead” at least four times and hit a milestone as he uttered a complete sentence during the show.

Dr. Villanueva, the trauma surgeon, managed to diagnose trichinosis after a brief (and I do mean brief) laying on of hands and two questions. Trichinosis is a roundworm disease caused by eating raw or undercooked pork. The CDC says there are fewer than 20 cases of trichinosis reported in the US yearly and most of those come from eating game such as wild boar. The domestic pork supply is virtually free of the problem. I am familiar with the trauma surgeon community. I doubt that many of them could have picked out that zebra.

Dr. Tina Ridgeway, the female neurosurgeon who is destined to hook up with the hunky neurosurgeon with nightmares (another Dr. Jekyll? See “Do No Harm”), presented a case at M&M conference. The patient, a chef, suffered olfactory nerve damage during a craniotomy for a meningioma. She acknowledged that she relied on the resident to obtain informed consent. This is not permitted in most hospitals. The chief of surgery then castigates her for allowing the resident to do the case. When I was a chief of surgery, I usually was faced with the opposite problem. Some of the attending staff were not letting the residents do enough.

By the way, Dr. Hooten calls himself “Chief of Staff” and he never takes care of any patients. While it is true to life that many administrators don’t actually treat patients, I know of no surgery department in which the chief does not operate. It is very easy to criticize others if you don’t ever have to get in the line of fire yourself.

The transplant scenes lacked realism. The doctor who wants the organs cannot go around and ask for them. Ethically, he must refrain from any hint of solicitation. When organs are donated, they are distributed by a network of organ banks. They rarely would stay at the procuring hospital. There are waiting lists and priorities. Donor families and recipient families would never be in the close proximity that was depicted in the show.

I liked it at M&M when the chief said to the evil transplant surgeon, “Tell us how you’ve been bad.” I wish I had thought of that one when I was running those conferences.

The story line about the girl with the brain tumor was good except for the part where the trauma surgeon helps talk her into agreeing to the operation. He’s a versatile guy. But really, a grand piano in the lounge?

Why is everything so dark at the hospital? Is there a problem with the power grid? I’m waiting for someone to ask for a flashlight.

The show is better at character development than medicine. Maybe they should stick to the former.


Anonymous said...

I am having a hard time believing Skeptic Scalpel is/was a surgeon. I am a neurourgery resident, and you are wrong on almost everything you wrote. In particular, you are completely off base about where and how organ procurement agencies distribute organs. I am not sure how long it has been since you practiced, but you need to do your homework. Your blog has become an obnoxious mouth piece of unsubstantiated opinion. I would have a lot more respect for your blog, if it focused more on facts than conjecture. You are guilty of all the thing you criticize.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Hearts and lungs tend to stay local if possible but livers and kidneys are matched to the best recipients and geography is much less of a factor. See this link http://www.organdonor.gov/about/organmatching.html.

I'll stand by my statement that donor and recipient families do not mingle at the time of the transplant.

I'm wondering what else I am wrong about. Please don't tell me your M&M conference bears any resemblance to what the show portrays. As a resident, don't you present the complications? Does your chairman surprise his attendings with information undisclosed until the day of conference? Does your chairman not operate?

RuggerMD said...

I guess the Skeptical Scalpel has fooled General Surgery News into allowing a non-surgeon to be very blunt about some of the sillyness of the medical world.

I am going to dub SS as the Glenn Beck of the surgery world. LOL.

Skeptical Scalpel said...


I'm not sure I get what you meant here. Who is the non-surgeon you are referring to? Are you comparing me to Glen Beck?

Kevin B. O'Reilly said...

Haven't watched the show, and don't intend to, but your comments about the inaccurate portrayal of the transplant process rings true. See this article of mine on Hollywood's record on this: http://tinyurl.com/b2fuyo8.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Kevin, thanks for commenting. I urge everyone to read the story you posted a link to. It's a valuable lesson for those who say, "It's just a TV show. Why does it matter how they portray medical situations.

Anonymous said...

hey Dr. SS,

There's a new reality show on TV tomorrow night about doctors' wives, called Married to Medicine. I know it's just your cup of tea, so look forward to your review ;-)

9pm Sunday on Bravo channel



Skeptical Scalpel said...

Sounds like a winner. I'll try to watch.

Anonymous said...

So, did you watch that Married to Medicine show?

Skeptical Scalpel said...

I did. Here's my post on that one.


Against all odds, I don't believe it has been canceled yet.

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