We expect a certain level of medical farfetchery on television, like how Dr. House manages to keep the medical board from taking his license and setting it on fire.
But this lack of realism doesn't really hurt anything other than our intelligence, unlike these Hollywood medical myths, which could hurt you to death:
6CPR Works When Nothing Else Will
As Seen On:
The Abyss, House, ER, Baywatch, Grey's Anatomy, Chicago Hope
According to Hollywood:
Sometimes doctors have to get up close and personal to keep death from stealing away their patients before they have a chance to pay their medical bills. By straddling the patient, giving mouth-to-mouth and pounding on their chest like Alex Van Halen, a doctor can bring someone back from the brink of oblivion, coughing and sputtering but alive and well.
A CPR gang rape doesn't work either.
We're not saying you should never perform CPR in real life--CPR works, sort of, by oxygenating the system and occasionally knocking the heart back in rhythm. However, there's not a whole lot it can do for someone who has already stopped being alive.
Also, CPR is nowhere near as sexilicious as television and the movies make it out to be. A properly performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation usually ends up cracking the patient's ribcage, which doesn't fit so well with a sweeping orchestral soundtrack. And the success rate is staggeringly low, something like two to four percent. In fact, most websites about manual resuscitation will tell you straight out that it almost never works.
Certain death sounds pretty good when the other option is a two to four percent chance of living through some stranger busting your rib cage and slobbering down your throat.
On a related note...
5Defibrillators Can Bring You Back To Life
As Seen On:
Every medical show in existence
According to Hollywood:
The defibrillator apparently allows us to bring anyone whose heart has stopped back from the dead, provided we have at least 75 percent of their remains intact.
"Quick, get the defibrillator!"
With this wonderful piece of modern medical technology, we are able to laugh in the face of death, then spit in it, make obscene phone calls to his wife three in the morning, steal his newspaper and shit on his porch. With science.
Have you ever wondered why they call it a defibrillator instead of a de-deather or de-lawsofnaturer? That's because defibrillators don't work that way; they can't bring people back to life. They are a little like Sean Connery: suave and sexy in movies, but pretty unimpressive in real life (also very old and hairy).
Basically, what the defib machines can do is help a patient regain a regular heart rhythm when they go into cardiac arrest, which it does by stopping their heart. Hopefully, it restarts with a normal rhythm. If the patient is already flat-lining, meaning their heart has already stopped beating, using the defibrillator to stop it some more will do about as much good as removing a malignant brain tumor with a shotgun blast.
Imagine your heart is a dude carrying a few heavy boxes, which in this metaphor contain your organs. If he drops them, you die. When you have a heart attack this imaginary man loses his balance and starts swaying dangerously. A defibrillator is the guy that runs over and helps your heart stand up straight, effectively saving your life. What the defibrillator won't do is gather your heart up off the ground if it has already fallen and dropped its boxes, because quite frankly he's late for work as it is.