Sep 30, 2019
Normally, we look at bad depictions of medicine in TV and film, and brainstorm ways to make scenes more medically accurate while keeping the stakes high. I wanted to share our latest episode, discussing The Office S02E12 "The Injury," because it's a great example of a show that did their research and gets most of the medical bits right.
There are two medical incidents that drive this episode. The more serious one is Dwight's concussion. Over the course of the episode, his symptoms progress in an incredibly accurate way, and one that my physician co-host, Jackson, would be concerned about if he saw Dwight in his E.R. More impressive to me is Michael's treatment of his minor burn - he does everything wrong, but he does all the right "wrong" things. For example, he tries to treat the burn topically with butter. In reality, this would only make your burn a little more delicious, and actually leads to a higher chance of infection. People really do this, though -- Jackson has seen not only butter-covered burns, but burns treated with toothpaste, mayonnaise, and even mustard. He's even seen parents try to sneak their way into their children's X-rays, the way Michael tries to slide into Dwight's MRI.
I think this episode -- and The Office in general -- is successful precisely because its script is grounded in solid research. It's rare for someone to be able to see their field of expertise on TV and not groan at the inaccuracies, whether that field is medicine, law, hacking, or even, sometimes, television production.
I'm interested to hear what other writers think, and what films/TV you'd like us to dive into. Jackson and our upcoming guests know what they want to cover as doctors, but I think there might be things that we're overlooking!