Top Ten Medical Clichés on TV and in Film

All my friends in medicine are infuriated by the way hospitals and the healing profession is portrayed in film and TV. Here are their top pet peeves.

  • After dying or or having an arrhythmia, characters instantly become electrically neutral. But they always get to finish sentences and vanish into sudden cardiac death or a deep coma in a split second.
  • People are in comas for years without ever opening their eyes. The reality is that after a few weeks patients enter a vegetative state which gives patients a basic day-night rhythm with opening of the eyes and often an eye reflex that follows motion in the room.
  • Coma patients experience no muscle atrophy after waking up. In real life, this takes months to fix.
  • Without getting tired or breaking ribs, people smash chest and perform CPR effortlessly.
  • Doctors have time to have deep conversations about the meaning of life and at the same time perform high level surgeries, scans and endoscopy’s.
  • Take someone arm at a 90 degree angle and ram an intravenous injection in them without checking for a vein.
  • Getting shot in the leg is harmless. It’s not like the bullet could ever hit your femoral artery and bleed you out in seconds. However, a shot in the abdomen will kill you instantly.
  • You’ll instantly be knocked out after a blow to the back of your head. Also, you just wake up dizzy after a few minutes. Because a contusion or massive intracranial bleeding is for brown people.
  • Coughing or vomiting blood is the only way to communicate being terminally or critically ill, with no prior symptoms.
  • Being a doctor is cool, but being casual is cooler. Always leave your white lab coats wide open because fashion.

The suspension of disbelief expected for fiction is all well and good but sometimes film and TV takes it too far. If you can think of more cliche movie moments, let us know below.



About the author

Annabelle Bertrams

Annabelle a strategist for Beauty Guide and an undergraduate student at Avans University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands.

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