Seriously, medically speaking, the CBS drama Hostages is becoming that car accident I can’t avert my eyes from. This episode had me doing some serious eye rolling– one of my eyes may have actually rolled away from me at one point. I have since recovered it so don’t worry.
During episode 7– the husband is left alone with the primary hostage taker and his primary goal is to do him in. What remains in the house is the “colorless, non-traceable, fast-acting poison” that was contained in a lipstick holder for Ellen to give the President during surgery.
Hubby finds it, a needle and syringe and draws up the medication. At the end of this episode he manages to put it into his chest and pushes in a little of the medication.
Enter the hero doctor who is now convinced that he must live or all of her family will die.
She asks him, “What is the poison?”
He says, “A rapid-acting paralyzing agent.”
At this point, I’m going to beg the producers of this show to either get a new medical consultant or hire one. Because, whoever is advising them doesn’t know anything about WHY this wouldn’t kill the president during his operation.
Paralyzing agents don’t stop your heart from beating. I’ve blogged here before about the unique characteristics of heart cells. They have their own automaticity. Paralyzing agents work at the neuromuscular juction to stop the muscles from being able to contract. Your heart muscle is different from this system but your diaphragm is not which is the primary muscle used for breathing.
The reason a paralyzing agent will kill you is that it stops the contraction of your diaphragm muscle and therefore you stop breathing. Obviously, if you’re not breathing you’re going to die so to save your life we have to provide rescue breathing and preferably oxygen.
In surgery, especially the type of surgery the president is having which is a lung surgery, he is already going to be intubated and bagged with oxygen to keep him alive. The injection of a paralyzing agent (of which he may already have some on board to get him intubated) would have a net ZERO effect.
You can read more about neuromuscalur blocking agents here.
So– it is fiction people and someone in the military wants him gone. You can’t invent an odorless, rapid-acting, undectable poison and give it a cool name?
Part II we’ll continue with the good doctor’s treatment.