(NaturalNews) A study conducted by 2 doctors in the University of Alberta Hospital suggests that real doctors are influenced by medical techniques they've seen performed by TV doctors. Drs. Peter Bindley and Craig Needham performed the study to find out why so many medical students were using a faulty technique to insert breathing tubes in patients.
Some of the doctors that were questioned for the study said that they learned through "trial and error," but a large number confessed that they acquired certain techniques from medical staff on popular TV shows. The study was initiated while the doctors were looking for better methods to teach resuscitation methods in the school.
"We asked medical students 'Where did you get some of your ideas before you even came into the medical profession?' And interestingly enough, ER came up as the number one influence," Dr. Brindley reported in an interview with Canada AM.
Brindley, who is a critical-care specialist at the University's hospital, and his colleague Dr. Needham, also took the time to analyze 2 full seasons of "ER" and discovered that, of the 22 fully-visible intubations depicted on the show, each erred in some manner with respects to the head positioning of the patient. "Not once was the resuscitation done properly," Brindley said. "And that's despite having numerous medical experts advising the show."
The study, published in the journal Resuscitation, was not the first to examine the influence of Hollywood doctors on real-life. In 1996, the New England Journal of Medicine published a report analyzing cardiac arrests on three shows - "ER", "Chicago Hope", and "Rescue 911". 75 percent of the patients depicted that went into cardiac arrest were revived.
Since the reality is that only about 15 percent of patients survive cardiac arrest, the authors of the 1996 study argued that such inaccuracies "may encourage the public to disregard the advice of physicians and hope that such a miracle will occur for them as well."
Dr. Brindley had similar comments after examining the results of the new study. "I could certainly understand that harmless entertainment shows, every now and then, don't do things the way that medical evidence would suggest. And that's fine" The intriguing thing, though, is that there is a fair amount of evidence out there that it does influence both how patients and families feel. And perhaps - perhaps - it influences doctors."
The researchers said medical students learn specific procedures like intubation in a lecture hall, then practice on a real patient with minimal supervision, and later themselves provide training for others. But Brindley recommends that computer assisted dummies should be used to provide more extensive life-like practice before performing methods like intubation on real patients.