Monday, April 19

Hospital Pet Peeves (TV)

As some of you probably know I've had some free time on my hands as of late and so I've been spending those days I can't/don't/won't feel like moving watching TV shows and movies. (No commercials!!) So after watching shows like Bones and Smallville (you'd be surprised how often they are in the hospital in that show!) and Stargate and LOST and who knows what else, I have developed some TV Hospital pet peeves that after spending more than 5 minutes in a hospital you would know are wrong.

My first one is pulling out an IV as soon as the person wakes up/ becomes conscious. Generally IVs are in your arm for a reason, maybe you should check the bag before pulling out the IV, see what they are giving you. Generally there is a nurse call button as well. Hit that and ask what the heck is going on. The character has been out cold for X amount of time. Waiting five minutes for a nurse to show up and answer your questions won't hurt you. Also if you don't apply pressure to an IV when you pull it out, it bleeds. A lot. Yet these TV people never have any sign of blood where the IV was.

Second pet peeve is that you would think that the ratio of nurses to doctors in a TV Hospital was something like five doctors for every one nurse. Oh, and if a nurse says anything odds are good she (rarely a he) is going to die. The doctors are always there for any questions or problems. ("Oh no, they aren't responding!" (Code blue) and there is the Doctor.) In real life I see the doctor... maybe once a day generally in the pretty early morning (8ish) and then you see nurses the rest of the time. You know the other 23.95 hours of the day. Credit where credit is due. Nurses rock. (Not that Doctor's aren't great too, it's just that Doctors do different things than nurses, and hanging around patient rooms isn't one of them.)

Third pet peeve would be improper use of medical equipment. This includes defibrillators (those heart restart paddles), IVs, MRIs, and needles. As a writer how hard would it be to go down to a hospital, explain what you are doing and ask some questions? Or there is also this tool I've heard about called the internet. You might be able to find some answers on there. The impression I get overall is that writers are lazy. ("Ooo, a big round tube thing, this must be to implant memories in people!")

And here is a bonus extra, not hospital related but I see it ALL the time. Ask yourself this question: When was the last time you saw static on a TV screen. Uh-huh, and what kind of screen was it? Yup. Not a flat panel. Yet when something goes "on the fritz" all the LCDs in the room suddenly go all snowy and staticy. I think it's probably more work for the production crew to run a kind of "static" program than to display it as it really happens... a blank screen, but where is the fun in that?

Those are some of the things I notice as I watch these shows and I start watching the background more than the characters. Lesson here: your show is only as good as your writers. Writers aren't computer, medical, forensic anthropologist, etc etc experts. What bothers you in TV shows/ movies that other people might not notice?



  1. Anonymous10:39 PM

    My personal pet peeves from TV are from shows like '24'. Someone is wounded and the hero checks for a pulse incorrectly, declaring death without ever even trying. That and misuse of technology terms...grrrr

    Justin Soto

  2. Oh my gosh, Ben. I could agree with you more! I used to love doctor shows and sometimes when I am REALLY tired I still do. Ok, I like some shows all the time. But my personal favorite is watching a doctor put in an ordinary PIV and hanging a bag of ordinary saline. Seriously? The doctors I know are the WORST people to put in a regular peripheral IV line. Because they NEVER do it. You want a good blood draw or PIV? Call an ICU nurse. NICU nurses are the best since they are used to working fast on small little veins that are hard to get.

    And credit wear credit due: nurses are the backbone and hands of hospital care. They clean up the crap and often take crap from the doctors too. That being said, I still eventually want to be a doctor, not a nurse. But in a hospital setting, nurses definitely, I think, do the hard, day-in-day-out work. The doctors get to do the short work, in and out work. I once shamed a set of doctors into actually changing a baby's diaper at my old job hospital. How many MDs does it take to change a diaper?

  3. Gary Brown6:08 AM

    Ok...for the military, they always show everyone wearing their dress blues which includes all their ribbons. Those are NEVER worn in a day to day environment (potential for messes, the ribbons are a pain to update and the sheer formality of it is something like wearing a suit to go to McDonalds). You will wear them if you are going to meet a board or testify in front of Congress (the latter happens to me on a REGULAR basis). Michelle could knockdown on CSI and its spinoffs for quite awhile...


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