Monday, February 27, 2012

Daisy Discusses Medicine and Fiction

This was originally posted on my personal blog Between the Pages

So I might have mentioned sometime that I'm studying medicine and this always makes me a bit hesitant to read a book or watch a movie dealing with health related issues. Or at least where it's a huge part of the plot. Cause there are SO many inaccuracies there and I almost always spot them and it bothers me.

Why does this bother me? Well, I'm living and breathing this stuff sometimes 50-60 (and sometimes more) hours a week and if you can manage to research whole time periods as an author/movie/TV producer you can't tell me you can't research a disease. It sometimes seems a bit sloppy to me.

I always annoy people around me with my shouting of various forms of: 'that SO doesn't happen like that'...

Some basic examples of what has bothered me and basic stuff:

*If you're a doctor, that doesn't mean you know EVERYTHING about EVERY specialty. I mean, really, I want to be a GP, that doesn't mean I will know how to do complex surgeries. Especially not by myself.

*Not all brilliant doctors are jackasses:

I think pretty much everyone knows the character this man plays. Med School isn't very accepting of this kind of behaviour. Not even if you're a genius.

*You don't take X-rays of a head to see if there's infarction/bleeding/tumors etc. It's a CT or MRI, X-rays are for bones.

*On the same note: I read a book recently in which they checked for ligament/meniscus damage with an X-ray of the knee. You can't see those on an X-ray.

*If you're mortally wounded and will die within seconds, you usually don't have time/strength to do anything meaningful in said seconds.

*If while making love the man pulls out before the finish line so to speak, the woman can still get pregnant (this annoys me in historical romance).

*On the pregnancy theme: if it's a woman's first time giving birth, it takes hours for the baby to arrive from the first time you feel a contraction. Seriously, some take 24 hours (or even more). So the frantic screaming of 'THE BABY'S COMING' right after the water broke is a bit premature. Unless you're really lucky (but believe me, that doesn't happen a lot).

Ok, so I can't think of more examples at the moment though I'm sure I've rolled my eyes at other stuff and I can tell you more things that don't happen like they do in books/movies, but some of those have gruesome details that aren't very pleasant to discuss. I may in the future post more on this when I come across it.

So, have you ever come across anything medical-related that made you think 'wait, does that really happen like that?' or do you do the same thing when you come across stuff that's related to your line of work? Cause I'm positive mistakes aren't only made in my field ;)


  1. All excellent points. Inaccuracies in medical fiction drive me crazy!

    1. Me too! It can seriously ruin an otherwise perfectly enjoyable book for me.

  2. I don't know a lot about medicine, but I do have problems with pregnancy/birth inaccuracies. I was in labour for 19 hours with my first and that was the least compared to my friends. A lot of them went 24-30 hours. Also, I don't think a woman can just get up and start walking around, especially of it is their first. I know I couldn't. It is a bit different with the second child... I'll stop ranting, but I totally agree with you.

    1. 19 hours is a LONG time! At least you get a cute baby out of it, but still... ;)
      But you're right, I've seen births done right in books maybe only two or three times.

  3. I'll forgive minor inaccuracies for the sake of the story, after all, things would get a little dry if every medical show/book/movie all looked the same. Also, real hospitals tend to be fantastically boring, from my experience. If it's really outlandish, however, like sudden miracle cures/vaccines for brand new diseases, etc, my BS meter tends to ruin it for me.
    I don't have as much patience for police procedurals that make no sense.

    And just to weigh in on the pregnancy/childbirth topic - first baby, 4 hrs start to finish labor, I was up walking around and showering about 30 mins later, and the next day I felt pretty dang good, all things considered. Every experience is different. Sometimes vastly so!

    1. Seems like you belong to the small group of women who get a speedy first delivery. Lucky you!! :)
      And yes, a lot of miracles tend to happen in fiction ;)

  4. OMG ALL THE DAMN TIME!!!! im a nurse so i have been dealing with, THE NURSE DOESNT DO THAT! doctors dont treat us like butt wippers! DAMN IT!!!! haha its so so annoying! but i can tell you that EVERYONE of my classmates and coworkers can go on for HOURS about how inaccurate this crap it!!! i cant image how these writers dont take the time to make it accurate!! it would please so many of us!!! eee i love this post!!! thanks!!


    1. Glad to hear I'm not the only one who gets worked up about this! :) And seriously, if a doctor knows what's good for him/her they definitely treat the nursing staff with respect! The information and help you get from them is so important!

    2. I'm a nurse too and I get really sick of watching or reading stuff where the doctors do pretty much everything from diagnosis to surgery to scans to administering medications and transporting patients, and the nurses are there to wipe bums and deliver meals. GRRR. :/ Rant over.

  5. I completely understand. I work in pharmacy as a technician so whenever there's anything about medications mentioned on a TV show/movie or in a book, I pay extra attention. The nice thing about knowing what I do is that I sometimes know long before anyone else in the room what is going on. So I'll be freaking out and saying, "OMG, that's no good!" and everyone else will say, "What? What?!" Lol.

    BUT! There are those times they'll say something incorrectly. One show said something about a certain sedative being at a certain dose and that it was 5 times the normal dosage, when it was really TWENTY times the normal dosage, AND the medication doesn't even come in the strength they said the tablet was. So, here I am, yelling at the TV. Hahaha...

    This post was great. I've noted a lot of little things like you mentioned above being stated or handled incorrectly. That's why if I'm going to write about anything medical, I will do my research. :)

    1. LOL! Yes, the yelling at the TV thing, I do that a lot as well :) Ineffective, but very satisfying!
      And YES, they get the medication wrong too many times to count!

  6. I don't know much about inaccuracies but what does drive me crazy is when books a really important medical element and then don't explain it at all. Like "there's this horrible disease and it kills all the adults." Ok but what does it look like? and how does it only kill that group? etc etc


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