Medical dramas are an interesting genre to viewers because of their plot and the adrenaline rush packed in the episodes. Often we would see doctors running around in their surgical clothes to perform surgery after an illness has been diagnosed and there would be the distinct shouting coming from the Professor to the new intern who made a few mistakes in his medical work. There would also be miracle surgeries whereby patients who are at the brink of death recover quickly after surgery.

Do medical dramas actually portray what happens in the real world? Here are some ways in which dramas are a far cry from what actually happens in reality.

1. Cost of medical treatments

In dramas, doctors often call for a variety of tests to be performed on a patient. These tests can be anything ranging from the most basic ones to the more complicated ones such as MRIs and CT scans.

Dramas paint a very rosy picture of the process of undergoing such tests and the treatment that follows. However, in reality, patients would actually need time to think about undergoing those tests due to the costs and to find out if their health insurance covers them.

2. Diagnosis of complicated medical conditions

From time to time, a complex medical problem would arise and cause confusion amongst the doctors. However, there would be this doctor that can pinpoint the problem almost immediately and start treating the patient.

In the real world, doctors need to assess patients and observe their condition as well as their symptoms before they can identify the root cause of the illness. This is completely different from dramas, and if doctors were to make a hasty diagnosis, it would put patients at great risk.

3. Perception of CPR

We are all familiar with the scene where a person suddenly collapses to the ground and a doctor nearby proceeds with CPR, which subsequently saves the life of the person. Dramas often depict people that receive CPR would live to see another day.

The truth is, most people who receive CPR do not actually survive. The survival rates of people in dramas who receive CPR is higher than in reality. This problem is made much worse in reality when a patient’s family perceives CPR to save lives easily and be devastated when their loved ones do not survive even after CPR.

4. Unrealistic heroism

A common episode would feature a crisis in which an intern is forced to perform a surgery beyond his capabilities or that he goes against the wishes of his Chief and carry through with the medical procedure because he feels that he is doing the right thing. At the end, the intern would have done a successful surgery and he would have looked like a hero.

As a matter of fact, this situation is impossible in reality. This is because performing a surgery requires years of clinical experience that an intern would not possibly have. If he were to perform the surgery on his own, he would have most likely killed the patient and have his medical license revoked. Not to mention the lawsuits that he would face for performing an unauthorised surgery.

While the differences of the healthcare system depicted in medical dramas as compared to reality seem plenty, similarities do exist. Whether it is in dramas or in the real world, doctors actually have packed schedules everyday and they actually get little sleep just like what is shown in dramas. Also, while medical dramas repeatedly showcase unexpected incidents in the emergency room, this also happens in reality albeit at a much less frequency as we would expect in dramas. MIMS

Read more:
Television dramas healthcare professionals need to watch for their unique perspectives
The reality of medical dramas
Doctors in movies: The good, the jaded and the tired

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