house is thisclose to not being my hero anymore

As promised, here goes my post on how House is now pushing my much more-relaxed-compared-to-Grey’s-Anatomy limits. Although I’ve taken issue with some of the things that are portrayed on the show before, I’ve always liked House and even secretly kind of admired him. Not for his Vicodin addiction or his outright rude treatment of patients, but more for the fact that he isn’t warm-and-fuzzy and is still a decent doctor. That gave the somewhat socially awkward introvert in me some hope that I could still make it despite my social ineptness.

But as with Grey’s Anatomy, House is crossing the line for me and I worry about what they’re filling our future doctors’ heads with since so many young people continue to be inspired by this character. So, why do I have a problem with him now when he’s done so many outrageous things in the past?

Well, maybe because he had a point all of those times before—he was mean because it was his way of getting through to his patients. But this time, what he did was just out of pure spite and grossly unethical in my book. For those of you who are not familiar with the current plot, House encounters a patient in the clinic who has a problem with his penis. The patient wants House to take a sample, but House refuses because he thinks the problem is due to his nictoine gum rather than an infection. The patient doesn’t like his attitude and oneups his nastiness by tripping House as he walks out of the door, causing House to come back into the room and seemingly give in by taking the sample. But to the patient’s surprise, House proceeds to ask him to bend over so that he can take his rectal temperature. And then House purposely leaves the thermometer inside the patient’s rectum, in what can only be called humiliation oneup-manship. He figures he’s had the last laugh and goes on with his day. The patient complains to Cuddy, of course, but House refuses to apologize and further escalates the situation by continuing to act like a complete ass towards the patient. Turns out the patient is a cop and is now out to get House by arresting him and charging him with possession of and being under the influence of Vicodin (I guess the whole popping pills in front of his patients thing has finally caught up with him) among other things.

I know House is an ass. And I like that he’s an ass most of the time because it’s amusing. I know that in real life, I can’t be an ass when it comes to dealing with patients. My problem is with the fact that he purposely left the thermometer inside of the patient’s rectum. I can understand taking a rectal temperature as revenge. That would be enough for me. I would draw the line there. But, no House had to go and leave it there. To knowingly do so is just too unethical even for a House-supporter like me. It sends the message that, “Hey! If your patient pisses you off (or is a bigger bully than you are), you can get revenge by doing physical harm to them. Forget the Hippocratic Oath!” And that’s what’s wrong with this current storyline. Yes, House is paying for it because the cop is now out to get him and it seems that his Vicodin habit will be his downfall here, but what about addressing the rectal thermometer being left behind thing? He obviously can’t play that off as a mistake since he refused to apologize for it. Yet no one seems to be calling him on his completely unethical behavior. They’re all worried about him without thinking about the mess that he’s dragging them all into because he couldn’t deal with a patient like a normal, sane human being.

And is this what we want to teach our future doctors? Let’s instill fear and respect for us into our patients by threatening them with bodily harm if they don’t listen to us. That’ll work wonders for the doctor-patient relationship. Had a bad day? Bad patient? Don’t worry! You can take it all out on your patients! Yes, doctors are human. Doctors cannot always control their emotions, especially when people push their buttons. But doctors are doctors for a reason. We trust them to always be acting in our best interest even if we piss them off to no end. Doctors cannot use their roles as doctors to take revenge on annoying patients. So, although I don’t think they’ll be addressing the leaving-a-thermometer-in-a-patient’s-rectum thing, I’m glad that it seems that he will be punished for something else that is clearly a problem: his Vicodin habit. Now, let’s hope they don’t copout like they did on Grey’s Anatomy.

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1 Response to “house is thisclose to not being my hero anymore”

  1. 1 CalliArcale

    I know House really annoys my dad (a general practitioner and sometime ER surgeon). He watched almost one episode. :-P That’s actually saying a lot, since he’s a fan of Hugh Laurie. But if one knows Laurie from British television (Blackadder, Jeeves & Wooster, etc), this show will be a surprise. It was for me, especially with that hoarse, American accent he’s affecting. (This is certainly not the affable twit Bertie Wooster.)


    The thermometer gag sounds very troubling to me too. That goes beyond. That’s not just humiliation of the patient (which itself is pretty bothersome, though in character for House) and into the realm of physical harm. Not good with no consequences. It’s nice to hear them dealing with a Vicodin addiction on the series, though. That’s certainly an interesting topic to address.

    It reminds me a lot of a storyline that ran on Babylon 5 for a while. The chief medical officer, Dr Stephen Franklin, developed a stimulant addiction out of a well-intentioned desire to be more available to his patients. The audience was able to watch the addiction progressively get worse over two seasons, watch him go through the classic stages of addiction (including increasingly desperate attempts to cover his tracks), until he finally hit rock bottom and was relieved of his duties until such time as he could sort out his problems and get rid of the addiction.

    Actually, I think despite being set in the future with made-up diseases and made-up therapies, Babylon 5 has one of the more realistic TV depictions of medicine, in that they deal with ethical quandries lacking a good answer and show real consequences for people’s actions.

  1. 1 so why do you want to be a doctor? (revisited) at My Life, My Pace

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