New Doctors in Canada May Screw up Thanks to Medical Dramas

The Alberta doctors were stumped. They were watching countless medical students and residents intubations being performed wrong. When they asked the younger generation what was up they were shocked. The kids had learned their technique on ER.
The older doctors began to study the shows that the younger generation was using as a part of their out of school education. Their findings were just written up in the journal Resuscitation.

The findings revive the television age old debate of if medical dramas have an obligation to portray the medical skill correctly. Can those inaccurate portrayals be held accountable for what is now being seen as chronic flaws in training Canada’s newest physicians?

Global TV reports:

“We were a bit shocked,” said Dr. Peter Brindley, the critical-care specialist at the University of Alberta Hospital who discovered the students’ extra-curricular secret. “The important lesson here is that we can’t leave medical education to chance alone.”

The report started after Dr. Brindley and his colleague Dr. Craig Needham watched students often were positioning the head of those that they were tubing incorrectly.

This was a huge problem because it could result in a life or death outcome.

The two doctors started to survey 80 students and residents. They found that most of those they questioned learned the procedure from “trial and error” and that many had picked up tips while watching TV doctors.

The most cited show was ER. Brindley and Needham analyzed a season of the show and found that in the 22 intubations that were filmed each one had the wrong head position on the screen.

Those findings and the reality that most medical students learn about tubing a patient in a lecture hall before ‘trying it out’ on a real live patient may them take stock. The “see one, do one, teach one” way to medical knowledge isn’t always going to win. Dr. Brindley is promoting the use of simulators to help educate medical students. Using the computer assisted dummies would give students real life practice before they try their skills out on a real life breathing person.


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