Most doctors I know get a kick out of the television show, "House." Though we're all aghast at his bedside manner and cavalier attitude, still there is a certain attraction. Those not in the medical field may wonder how physicians can enjoy watching such a callous fellow.
Here are the five top reasons doctors love Dr. House.
1. Dr. Gregory House says things doctors would like to say themselves, but don't have the nerve. Most doctors filter what comes out of their mouths. They may think curse words, but seldom say them. We rarely accuse our patients of lying, even when we suspect it. We may think our patients have behaved foolishly, but we keep our thoughts to ourselves. It comes as a catharsis to finally hear a doctor (albeit an imaginary one) say things that cross every doctor's mind.
2. Dr. House does do any paperwork. Doctors hate paperwork. It's not only beyond boring, but sometimes perceived as interfering with patient care. The benefits are usually invisible, uncompensated, and extend the workday (needlessly, he would add).
3. Dr. House walks away from boring cases. Few doctors have this privilege. Physicians take patients as they come, without guarantee of intellectual stimulation. For family physicians, this means seeing high blood pressure patients, day after day after. For dermatologists, it's acne, psoriasis, and eczema, and for cardiologists it's heart attack, heart attack, heart attack. Even poor Dr. Wilson sees cancer, cancer, cancer.
4. Dr. House does not worry about getting paid. He's apparently on a salary, and gets paid the same no matter how few patients he sees or clinic hours he skips. Other doctors get paid by the patient or by the hour and are expected to produce. Most of us would be happy to have an afternoon to spend watching TV or surfing the web, while others are busy doing our work for us.
5. Dr. House does not worry about what anything costs. For a doctor it's a burden to not only worry that the right tests are ordered, but that they'll be paid for, either by insurance, the patient, or the government. House simply does care. He orders every test in the book. In real life it's not the hospital administrators who are looking over our shoulders to see what tests we've ordered – it's the insurance companies that require pre-authorization and proof that less expensive therapies have already been tried. Being an advocate for our patients, and taking the extra time to make sure appropriate testing is obtained, generally amounts to more uncompensated paperwork. Bullying your way through simply does not work for real doctors.
Aside from his diagnostic skills, Dr. House is the antithesis of a good physician. But still he's funny, and now and then I learn a thing or two. Once or twice a season I solve the case before the esteemed Dr. House – which keeps me coming back for more. The cases are true, by the way, all oddballs that the average doctor might see once in a lifetime. In medical school we're taught that when you hear hoofbeats, you should think horses, not zebras. But in Dr. House's case, he's got a stableful of zebras.
Copyright 2010 Cynthia J. Koelker, MD