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5 Common Medical Myths Movies Always Get Wrong

Discussion in 'Doctors Cafe' started by Egyptian Doctor, Nov 4, 2013.

  1. Egyptian Doctor

    Egyptian Doctor Moderator Verified Doctor

    Mar 21, 2011
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    Practicing medicine in:

    1- CPR:

    CPR in movies is just done all wrong. A pulse is never checked for prior to doing chest compressions in film, the presence of which would preclude the need for CPR at all.

    And when it’s done… shoddy, shoddy work. CPR is a quick and vigorous endeavor, with optimally over 100 pumps per minute that go a multiple centimeters deep. Even on the X-Files, Dana Scully and other doctors would perform pitiful cardiopulmonary resuscitation. And she was a doctor.Scully should know better. The blood they’re trying to move would never make it all the way up to someone’s brain.

    Real CPR is brutal, with ribs often cracking from the pressure. Of course, when CPR is over, people rarely just wake up and act fully alert. Needing CPR in the first place means your heart stopped working, usually a sign you’re not gonna just get up and say “shucks, what just happened?”

    And God, I’m not even gonna cover defibrillators.

    2- Foreign Objects:

    When people are shot or stabbed in movies, the initial reaction everyone has is to get the knife or bullet out as fast as possible. And while a knife should probably eventually be removed, you’d be surprised at the number of bullets that have stayed lodged in someone’s body, including their skull, causing no more than improved cell phone reception.

    In real life, you don’t want to be unsheathing a knife deeply plunged into you while you’re in the comfort of your own home. Though the blade itself has done its damage, now that it’s in the body, you don’t know what kind of additional havoc removing it may wreak. In fact, the weapon itself might be the very thing blocking a gushing artery from going buck-wild. It damages going in, damages going out. Tweaking around a knife embedded in you outside of an operating room is ill-advised.


    When movies show people in comas, they sleep peacefully as their loved ones stand over them. In real life, if you’re comatose, you are one sick puppy. There’s a way to quantify how comatose you are called the Glasgow Coma Scale, and if you reach an 8 or below, you’ve probably bought yourself an intubation and the use of a breathing machine to protect you from dying. A loud machine which constantly beeps, in addition to the multiple IVs in arms, groin and the neck, and there’s almost never a hot young Sandra Bullock standing over you.

    4- The Miracle Of Life:

    For those who haven’t witnessed it, the miracle of birth is… disgusting. There’s screaming. Shouting. A wet baby comes out, covered in goo. And when the baby’s out, a hunk of placenta follows it. Things tear. There’s usually poop involved. And that’s when things go the right way. There’s no magic or rainbows or angels singing.

    5- Injecting In The Heart:

    I love Pulp Fiction. And The Rock… well, the Rock was a movie, too. Both of these films depict their heroes, John Travolta and Nic Cage respectively, injecting life-saving medicines directly into hearts. Very dramatic.

    But also pointless, and dangerous. If you inject into a vein, that blood will drain right into your heart. Within seconds. Sticking a needle into your heart just risks– obviously– Doctors may stick needles in the heart to drain accumulated fluid in case of cardiac tamponade , also they may inject in the ventricle directly through spinal needle in severe cases.



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