I wasn’t sure if I would continue to do these posts on the new ABC drama, The Good Doctor. One of the first posts I did got one of the largest responses ever on my FB page. The responses were 50/50 for and against the show. Many people want to champion the series because it highlights someone with autism working in the medical field.
The other half agree that if you’re going to highlight a medical drama— it would be nice to have it be the teeniest bit accurate. I’m not asking for a lot . . . just don’t give patients false hope or have them get such a skewed view of medicine that they trust medical professionals less. We’re already fighting that battle.
My disgruntlement with the show is not the fact that they highlight a character with autism— it is with the medical aspects of the show and how they handle their patients.
That is where my fight is . . . so let’s carry on.
In episode four, the main story highlights a woman who is pregnant with a child who has a large spinal tumor. The woman has already miscarried two children as the result of a clotting disorder she suffers from.
Issue #1: All surgeons cannot do all things. This continues to be a big complaint of mine for the show. One of the general surgery attendings is also a specialist in fetal surgery. I cannot tell you how specialized a field fetal surgery is. There are only a handful of these specialized doctors in the country. A general surgeon is not even, in their right mind, going to attempt something so risky for a notch on their proverbial belt. It would be negligent for them to do so.
Issue #2: OR’s are well lit. In this particular episode, I noticed all the OR scenes are shot in relative darkness. I’m sure this is so it looks uber cool for the viewer and there are times when OR light is dimmed, but we do generally want surgeons to be really able to see what they’re doing. Which is why they get really big lights.
Issue #3: Medical equipment called for— never placed on the patient. During the first surgery to remove the tumor from the child, the mother suffers a heart attack and they place her on a balloon pump that mysteriously never gets put in place. These are obvious pieces of equipment and it is never shown or mentioned again.
Issue #4: Surgery without patient consent. Despite the pretty serious complication of the first surgery, the mother is gung ho to go at it again, despite having had a heart attack. That’s actually believable. Mothers will do anything to save their child. What’s a little surprising is how gung ho the surgeons are. What follows are some pretty mind boggling discussions of who lives and who dies under what circumstances.
The attending surgeon offers a plan to not tell the mother that her surgery will end up being an abortion to save her life. That they’ll essentially lie to her telling her they’re going to take her to the OR for another attempt at saving the infant while really going in to end his life. On a one to ten scale of how unethical a plan that is to even be mentioned is like one hundred. The better person to float out an idea like that? A medical student. A resident. The attending? Those are the people teaching our young doctors— please have them be a representation of some sort of ethical boundary.
To be clear, the surgical game plan can change during an operation, but to go in knowingly deceiving a patient is malpractice.
Issue #5: The baby is just as monitored as the mother during the surgery. In the scene of the second fetal surgery, the baby is just lying there on the mother’s stomach with no monitoring equipment. The baby is monitored as thoroughly as the mother.
What are your thoughts on The Good Doctor?