House

08/07/2005 16:45:37
tags: medicine, art

MedicalThoughts

I saw the pilot for a new series a few days ago called House (Fox). Unfortunately, I do seem to watch a good number of medical TV shows, some better than others. This one airs opposite Scrubs (which means I have to break out the VCR to back up my Tivo for that time slot…), but is still worth taking a look at.

In short, it is about an incredibly cynical physician who somehow managed to set up a practice where he really doesn’t have to work too much. He acts as sort of an independent quaternary referral center for cases that have stumped other physicians for a variety of reasons. The medical detective work is somewhat interesting, but not exactly ground breaking.

What I enjoy is that it allows the characters to express things that many of us in medicine feel from time to time but aren’t allowed to say. In this respect it is very similar to Scrubs, but perhaps taking things even a step further. Healthcare is an interesting field - most people in it truly do want to be able to help others. Simultaneously, however, we are frequently frustrated at our patients’ inability (or active refusal) to assist us in this process. Dr. House summed it up pretty well by basically refusing to actually see the patients he is trying to help on the grounds that they constantly “lie”, and it is therefore counterproductive to actually interview them.

While obviously an extreme statement, I would argue that there is a lot of truth to it. I am constantly amazed at many individuals lack of awareness of cause and effect in their own lives. This is not limited to the field of medicine - I expect that it is a common phenomenon in many areas of modern life. As a group, people don’t seem to take as much responsibility for themselves and their lives as they should. This frequently leads to frustration when doctors’ attempts to help patients are thwarted by misinformation and muddled histories….

I wonder if the protagonist’s name is a reference to the House of God by Samuel Shem. For anyone interested in an off-color look at healthcare and medical education, it is a really interesting read. For an idea of the themes of the book, take a look at the [[Laws of the House of God]].

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