Remember how they always told you TV rots your brain? Surely they (whoever “they” are, we all have our theories) would be quite shocked to hear that a healthy TV diet helped a bunch of doctors solve a medical mystery and save a patient. All thanks to the show House M.D., starring the inimitable Hugh Laurie.
For those who haven’t seen the show, Dr. Gregory House is a peculiar kind of character, a sort of medical detective. Grumpy, socially inept and yet he always seems to solve medical cases other doctors can’t.
So when doctors at a German clinic were faced with a patient exhibiting a slew of symptoms that just kept getting worse, they found a particular episode of House to be very helpful, reports the AFP.
Over the course of a year, the patient’s heart started to fail, his sight and hearing deteriorated, he suffered from acid reflux, swollen lymph nodes and fever.
That combination of ailments was puzzling, to say the least. One thing stood out on his medical history though — a double hip implant.
Ding, ding and ding. That reminded the team of an episode on the seventh season of House, where a character suffers from similar symptoms and Dr. House figures out it’s from an eroded prosthetic implant, which was causing cobalt poisoning.
After tests confirmed that theory, doctors replaced his metal prosthesis with a ceramic one, and voila!
“Shortly after the hip replacement, the patient’s plasma (blood) cobalt and chromium concentrations decreased and the patient stabilised and recovered slightly,” the case report said.
After 14 months he was even better — his heart had improved, the fever and acid reflux were gone, but he still hadn’t recovered much of his hearing and vision. But an improvement, nonetheless.
“It was helpful for me that I was aware about the cobalt problems thanks to Dr. House,” the team leader told AFP, adding that the team also used other diagnostic tools, not just TV.
“All this demonstrates nicely that well-performed entertainment is not only able to entertain and educate, but also to save lives,” he added. He’s also known as the German Dr. House already by his colleagues and even uses the show as a teaching tool for his students, so this should only serve to bolster that comparison.
Fun fact I learned in this story? From AFP, referring to the Dr. House character:
He is based on Sherlock Holmes, whose character was in turn inspired by real-life 19th century Scottish doctor Joseph Bell who, like House, used deductive reasoning as a diagnostic tool.
Did we just get incepted?