• Question: How factually correct are doctor tv shows? Like House M.D and The Good Doctor.

    Asked by sophienorth on 28 Jun 2018.
    • Photo: Liza Selley

      Liza Selley answered on 28 Jun 2018:


      I trained as a forensic scientist and am regularly horrified by the things the forensics characters say and do in shows like Dexter or Touch of Frost. It’s a wonder they ever catch the right criminal with all the sample contamination that goes on!

      TV production teams do have people that research the backgrounds of their shows but if the ones that work on the medical shows are anything like the ones for the forensics ones I’d say they are full of inconsistencies. Holby City has a lot of research going on at the moment and there are times where I have snorted with laughter at the TV. As an example, the head of department was sat in an immaculately clean lab, trying to grow cells at the table in a tiny tube. In reality a student would have been doing that in a very messy lab, using a specialised cabinet and a big flask!

      I do love those shows 🙂 i suppose it depends on how big their budget is for the background research and whether any real medics are involved in the writing.

    • Photo: Jason Chu

      Jason Chu answered on 28 Jun 2018:


      It depends on the show!
      But I’ve heard from a Doctor (anaesthetist), that House MD is often very inaccurate and unrealistic. However, it doesn’t take away from the entertainment value of the show. And the fact that it inspired me to go after a career in medicine and science.
      So it did well in that regards.

    • Photo: Joanne Sharpe

      Joanne Sharpe answered on 28 Jun 2018:


      I’ve not seen those particular shows but I know I have definitely also snorted at the TV when I’ve seen certain “lab practices” on these kind of programmes. But as Jason says, it doesn’t really matter as if you enjoy watching them it can inspire you to be a scientist and then you’ll learn all these things anyway!

    • Photo: Claire Donald

      Claire Donald answered on 28 Jun 2018:


      I’m not a medic so I wouldn’t like to say with regards to the medicine but I once saw an episode of Elementary which was talking about viruses that made me facepalm! It was so bad I couldn’t watch anymore. Even very basic scientific methods like using a pipette in some shows like CSI can be cringing bad. So if they cant get that right, I hate to think what else is wrong! But if they encourage people to take more of an interest in that area then they aren’t all bad.

    • Photo: Alex Haragan

      Alex Haragan answered on 28 Jun 2018:


      As a doctor I can say that, on the whole, no, they are not.

      Thats generally why I don’t like watching them but I have quite a few colleagues who do!

    • Photo: Lauren Burns

      Lauren Burns answered on 28 Jun 2018:


      It depends on the TV show, and as my colleagues have said, the budgeting and whether they invite professionals onto it (like the Big Bang Theory) will affect the accuracy. However, people watch TV shows to be entertained, so even if they are based on truth (e.g. like an actual disorder/illness), often how it works is more complicated than the public really care about (and going into it too much takes away the fun) so is simplified and dramatised to make it more entertaining. I guess just remember don’t believe everything you see on TV!

Comments