Travel back with us in time if you will, to a magical place where coronavirus hadn't yet forced us all inside and being a doctor, actually seemed like a fun time. Also, "Beyblades" were a big thing. We're talking, of course, about 2005 during the height of Scrubs. Despite being a comedy, Scrubs is actually considered one of the more realistic shows when it comes to medicine. About a month ago, a clip from the Scrubs episode "My Cabbage" made the rounds on the internet and nailed how an infection spreads and the importance of social distancing and hand washing.
That's why I decided to re-watch the season 4 episode "My Quarantine" to see if there were any pearls of wisdom it could impart upon our quarantine. Were there signs of the upcoming Coronavirus that Scrubs could have been pointing out? Should we have known all along that the American medical system was ill-equipped to handle a pandemic?
Our journey into quarantine starts below, as JD suggests a patient might have SARS, triggering the hospital's lockdown.
Already there is an alarming occurrence. Jordan can sneak out before the hospital is placed on lockdown, causing us to wonder if she could be at risk of infecting the population. But according to CDC guidelines, it appears she most likely was fine to leave.
"In the United States, where there was limited transmission of SARS-CoV during the 2003 SARS outbreak, neither individual nor population-based quarantine of contacts was recommended. CDC advised persons who were exposed but not symptomatic to monitor themselves for symptoms and advised home isolation and medical evaluation if symptoms appeared."
If anything, it appears like Sacred Heart's response to a SARS outbreak might have been on the more stringent end of the spectrum in the United States, given the time. However, in Singapore, hospitals effectively contained SARS by imposing strict guidelines. Jordan would have been followed up on, especially considering she is in frequent contact with the attending physician. Should we have taken this as a warning sign from Scrubs to strengthen our procedures? Let's check out another scene.
Here we find JD giving chest compressions to a homeless man that he paid to fake a heart attack to impress his date. But dubious ethics aside, we're here to talk about infectious diseases. While we can forgive the actors for not wearing masks throughout the episode -- it is TV after all, and we want to see their faces to read emotional cues -- it's important to note that JD isn't wearing gloves. That JD would forget to use PPE in the middle of a potentially infected ward is another bad sign for our current predicament, but at the same time, maybe it's foretelling our current PPE shortage. Hmmm. Let's watch one last clip.
Dr. Kelso reveals that he has been eating cake, possibly with his bare hands, during the entire lockdown. To make matters worse, Nurse Roberts sucks the cake frosting off of his thumb. It's a hygienic disaster all around.
So what did we learn? Well, JD breaks hospital protocol a few times more throughout the episode, like forcing his intern Lonnie to disrobe in the middle of the hospital floor. It could lead us to conclude that hospitals weren't in the proper mindset for COVID-19, but at the same time, this is a TV show. So we probably learned nothing. Huh ... maybe we should try House.
Dan loves Scrubs more than anything and will gladly talk about it with you on Twitter @realdanduddy, and he also hosts The Bachelor Zone Podcast, where you can hear him give a sports-style breakdown of all things happening on The Bachelor.
Top Image: Scrubs/ ABC