Hospital Drama: Television Docs and Bedside Manner

Beth Brophy Health Guide
  • I have to confess that after completely swearing off medical dramas on TV, I now regularly watch two of them. I got hooked on "Gray’s Anatomy" after watching it a few times with my daughters. What I like about it is that the medical issues are secondary to the steamy sex lives of the interns, so it is really more of a soap opera than a medical show.

    I am also a huge fan of "House," which somehow I missed when it began last year. I love the main character, Dr. Gregory House, a brilliant diagnostician, who can figure out the most esoteric medical mysteries every week--and who knew there were so many rare medical mysteries in New Jersey, of all places? House is lovable because he is such a deeply flawed person. He’s addicted to painkillers, and is the most hilariously politically incorrect doctor to ever appear on the small screen. He hates most people, he’s horrible to his colleagues and to the young doctors who work on his team, and he’s gratuitously insulting. His bedside manner is brutally honest, he disdains his patients and assumes that they are lying to him about everything-- and they usually are. But House is heroic all the same, driven to solve the medical puzzles that he is confronted with every week, and he saves many lives in the process, even though he is cynical about humanity. House is a great character, far superior to the sappy doctors who are one-dimensionally good-hearted on shows like "ER."
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    When it comes to my own real-life team of breast cancer doctors, however, I’m not sure if I could tolerate a bedside manner like House’s. However, there are two exceptions I can think of, where I stuck with an abrasive personality because I respected that doctor’s special expertise. Neither are quite as extreme as House, though. And one of them has softened considerably over the past ten years, and I have even come to like her very much. But in most cases, if a doctor is rude or dismissive, I’m out of there.

    Would you stay with a very good doctor with a bad bedside manner? Tell us in the message boards.
Published On: May 19, 2006