Fictional Pharmacy: How Accurate Is TV Drama Med Advice?
Results of a retrospective observational study assessing television medical dramas found that, although drug indications were often depicted correctly, safety checks and medication-related advice were not appropriately depicted.
In the study, 100 hours from 5 fictional medical drama series with the highest viewership were analyzed to determine the “appropriateness of advice given based on the medication indicated, number of safety checks performed, and the level of adherence to standard clinical guidelines.” The television dramas included in the analysis were House, Grey's Anatomy, Nurse Jackie, Doc Martin, and Royal Pains.
Medication advice appropriateness was assessed using a piloted, 0 to 6-point scale and deemed either appropriate, mostly appropriate, partially appropriate, or inappropriate. Patient demographics, involvement of healthcare professionals, and medication categories were also assessed.
Results of the study found that, during the 100 hours assessed, medications were mentioned a total of 424 times, averaging 4 times per hour. Medication advice was given a total of 239 times and was “deemed to be appropriate 24% of the time, mostly appropriate 34%, partially appropriate 13% and inappropriate 7%.” Pharmacists were found to only give medication advice on 16 occasions, equating to 7% of the total time.
Analysis also found that although the medication advice regarding the indication of a medication and clinical guidelines was often appropriate, adequate safety checks were frequently omitted. The study authors noted that House and Grey's Anatomy had the lowest average appropriateness score, while Doc Martin had the highest.
Although the indication for a medication was often used correctly in the television medical dramas assessed, safety checks and other medication-related advice were not depicted as appropriately. The study authors conclude that “viewers should not base medication-related decisions solely on what they see in television medical dramas, and any medication-related advice should be interpreted with extreme caution.”
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