The Good Doctor is Bad Medicine Part 2/3

I’m continuing my evaluation of ABC’s new medical drama The Good Doctor. You can find Part I here. The series follows first year autistic surgical resident, Shaun Murphy, as he navigates his surgical residency.

The second episode sees Shaun begin his duties and he’s been accepted into the program, albeit with some outward disdain from some of the attending surgeons.

In the opening scene of this episode, a middle-age woman has had a CT of her abdomen that shows a large mass.

Issue #1: Morphine dosing. The patient’s initial dose of morphine is 10mg. This is a little on the high side. Generally, we’ll start with lower doses and work our way up. However, they distress the patient with news of her medical diagnosis and so the attending surgeon says to the resident, “Give her as much Morphine as she wants.” So the way we deal with patient distress is by overdosing them on narcotics? I don’t think so.

Issue #2: Reviewing medical tests in front of the patient. Two surgical residents and the attending surgeon pull up the CT results in front of the patient without having reviewed them first and the test shows a very concerning exam. Dr. Murphy diagnosis her with cancer, in front of the patient, based on this scan. This is reason #1 why you know what the patient is dealing with before you go talk with them. Nothing should be hidden from a patient, but also should the information be presented in a compassionate, informative way.

Issue #3: The definitive diagnosis of cancer can only be made by biopsy. Are some radiology studies highly suggestive of malignancy? Yes, absolutely. But always, the cells must be looked at for definitive diagnosis, which means a biopsy.

Issue #4: Supposedly, Shaun Murphy is crazy uber-smart despite his communication difficulties related to his autism, but he seemingly made it out of medical school without an understanding of what “scut work” is. Sure.

Issue #5: Nursing as boss. In one scene, a nurse is placed as Shaun Murphy’s “boss” to keep him from ordering unnecessary medical tests. Put simply, this is not nursing’s responsibly.  It is a nurse’s responsibility to protect patient’s assigned to her from unnecessary medical testing (or at least question the physician about tests that seem out of bounds), but never would a nurse be assigned to follow a resident around all day to keep tabs on him. This is the responsibility of the surgical hierarchy and they need to keep tabs on this resident. Also, this nurse seemingly works every area of the hospital from the ER to the PACU. This is also unrealistic.

Issue #6: Nurses are called by their first name— not “Nurse” and their last name. Again, can we get rid of this stereotype?

Issue #7: Lab delay in pathology results. Lab works very closely when surgeons are waiting for results with a patient on the table. These would be considered “stat” reads and would not be placed in the normal milieu of other lab tests.

Issue #8: Threats of violence are taken very seriously. Shaun’s response to the lab personnel not immediately reading the pathology slides is to verbally threaten to throw a rock through their window. This is completely unacceptable behavior, regardless of the autism diagnosis of the surgical resident, from any member on a hospital staff and would not be treated with a kind response (as in she smiles and concedes to his demands.) A statement made like this would receive disciplinary action.

Issue #9: These amazing medical centers cannot do amazing surgery. In this episode, the surgical team decides they must cut out the kidney in order to get a better look at the tumor. Fine, great. But why not reimplant it once the surgery is over?

There are so many issues with this one episode of The Good Doctor it deserves a Part III.

10 thoughts on “The Good Doctor is Bad Medicine Part 2/3

    • I completely agree with your diagnosis of The Good Doctor. While that particular episode was lacking, the one that ran January 8, 2018, was the worst yet. I was disappointed to watch the ignorant young doctor being led away the ENTIRE show by a self centered girlfriend between an overabundance of commercials. There are too many frustrations with the program. I wont waste anymore of my time viewing The Good Doctor.


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  3. I have just watched the episode and I kinda gave it for granted the kidney had been put back in. I mean, it seemed to me so obvious nobody in the room questioned and we sort of suspended our judgement. Maybe we lost a couple of frames while getting something out of the fridge. I asked what happened to the kidney and my mates told me it had been put back in. Because it seemed obvious, right? And now I discover they left the hole — plot-hole, I dare say.

    However, I think you are too harsh with the disciplinary action stuff. I mean, the guy could not even utter a “credible” threat. So the lab technician would just shrug it off as something unrealistic. The threat was so unrealistic nobody would have cared reprimand him. She did the tests out of pity, not because of the silly threat.

    By the way, you are 100% right. There are different lists in all hospitals and such a test would not be in the normal queue. Also, do these hospitals even have phones? A facility could be pretty big and you cannot have people running around all time fetching things and stuff, also considering most tests will be downloaded via pc. So do they even use the phone to interact or is it a face-to-face hospital?

    Also, very good point. In this series they do too much s*** with the patient listening to them. Accordingly, in the finale the surgeon tells his apprentice: “If you are not a hypocrite, see the patient and tell her we saved her life but you disagreed with the procedure”. What about keeping the patient out of team discussion? Shutting up is not hypocrisy. Decisions are made by the team, with the avail of the team leader. As such, the patient should not be needlessly exposed to arguments that occur *within* the medical équipe. Once decisions are made, everyone has to follow through and not expose the patient to unnecessary debate.


  4. I enjoy your doctor’s perspective on inaccuracies on “good doctor.” Wrong meds, no imaging, etc. I find inaccuracies from in- hospital perspective. Hospital president also chief of surgery? Dr. Kim doing gyn surgery one week, ortho surgery another week, and plastic surgery (face transplant)!the next? Board chairman getting involved in day to day operations and second-guessing medical judgment? I could go on, but I won’t (other than to marvel at the condition of a face transplant recipient on day one post surgery?).
    My wife tells me to just relax and enjoy the drama. But I can’t


    • Hi Ted,

      Thanks for your insights as well and I agree with everything you’ve said. Sometimes, you can’t mention everything in even THREE blog posts. It’s pretty crazy to me how much they get away with. They do that with nursing as well– one nurse works every area, every department, every shift. It’s amazing!


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