Medical dramas paint skewed picture of ideal care

Sara Hussein writes for Agence France-Presse about how television dramas with medical themes give patients false impression that top-notch medical care involves huge batteries of tests and highly aggressive, interventionist treatments, probably because such things make for better television.

Hussein quotes AHCJ board member Andrew Holtz, who says the sort of care demonstrated on shows like Fox’s “House” isn’t as consistently successful as it may seem on TV, and can in fact be harmful in some cases.

While the primary goal of medical programming may be entertainment, Hussein writes, they also have the power to help a broad audience better understand complicated issues. As an example of the positive potential of health dramas, she cites a daytime soap opera that mentioned an HIV/AIDS hotline. The day of the mention, that hotline got the most calls it received all year.


The role of medical dramas was discussed during a special ” Hollywood and Health” roundtable at Health Journalism 2007, with writers and producers from Grey’s Anatomy, House and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit; and actors from General Hospital.

Leave a Reply