How House, M.D. is affecting patients’ expectations of medical care


More patients are expecting doctors to be more like Gregory House, the fictional doctor of Fox’s House, M.D.

But when you consider how much unnecessary testing is already going on, can this be a good idea?

house md Well, no. But that doesn’t stop a handful of patients with rare diseases to implore that their doctors do more testing: “Doctors say they’re seeing a rise in patients who’ve self-diagnosed a condition they saw on ‘House.’ . . . few are usually right, doctors say, but that doesn’t stop patients from expecting that physicians will run the complex and costly tests, such as those House routinely runs in the pursuit of a diagnosis. Not only are those tests often unneeded, doctors say, they can drive up the overall cost of health care.”

In reality, those with rare diseases take years to diagnose, and certainly not within the confines of a one hour television drama. It’s also important to note that it’s frustrating for doctors as well when patients cannot be diagnosed. After all, we’d like to know what the answer is as well.

Part of the difficulty lies in the fact that some answers are infrequently black and white. Unlike television, there is no moment of revelation at the 55-minute mark. There’s a reason why rare diseases are difficult to diagnose.

And television shows like House, M.D. is doing real-life physicians a disservice by unreasonable ratcheting up patients’ expectations of what medical technology can do.


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