Fall TV Medical Analysis: Hostages

Obviously, you know I’m a stickler for medical accuracy– hence the mission of this blog.

Fall TV has started and given me some new shows to analyze. Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll comment every now and then on a few of my TV staples like Grey’s Anatomy.

Just remember– what you see on TV is not likely accurate. Maybe not even close.

Hostages, which is airing on CBS, actually has a pretty genius medical set-up. The president needs surgery (some type of lung surgery) and wants to increase popularity points by using a “public” doctor who happens to also be a woman.

For some nefarious reason not yet discovered– there are people who want the president deceased. So as a means to this end they hold the doctor and her family hostage until she offs the president during surgery.

Of course, each family member has a secret they’re hiding (except maybe the doctor) which all spills out when they’re in crisis.

The first couple of episodes deal with how the good doctor, played by Toni Collette, saves the president’s life by giving him a complication that will postpone the surgery.

What it shows is her leaving a vial of saline at his bedside. It comes out later that the president was accidentally given Heparin (which is a blood thinner) by a nurse starting his IV and the doctor suspected this when he had some bleeding at his IV site.

And– surgery postponed.

Medically, I have a couple of problems with the scene. The vial the doctor left on the bedside table was sealed– it’s plastic top in place. These can’t be screwed on and off. Once they are popped off, any good nurse assumes that the vial has been used in some way. These can be multiple dose vials (meaning many doses drawn up for different patients) but these days most hospitals used pre-filled syringes or one vial/patient. That particular vial that she left couldn’t have been tampered with because the top was still in place.

I think what would have been more believable would be to show the doctor adding the medication to the vial, and leaving it opened at the bedside and then giving it to the nurse for the IV start versus just hoping the nurse uses it because it’s there.

Also– thinning blood based on one Heparin bolus isn’t that easy to do. Generally a patient is given a bolus and then started on a drip for a period of time.

I do like the show and I’ll keep watching. We’ll see how the medical scenario plays out.

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