Wednesday, September 28, 2011

House is Gray-Blind

House almost always sees decisions as black-or-white, live-or-die. He overlooks the (less dramatic) middle road or third option. I interviewed bioethicist Dr. Mark Wicclair for “House, M.D. vs. Reality” and he offered an example of how the contrasts and choices House sees frequently miss the shades of gray that real doctors and patients have to deal with:
“House says that if the patient doesn’t agree to be on a respirator, he’s going to die in a very painful, suffering way by choking to death. That’s a no-no in the real world. If a patient decides not to be put on a ventilator, then she is given sedation and palliative care so that she doesn’t suffer. It’s a third way. You can go on a ventilator, you can not go on a ventilator and choke to death, or we can make you comfortable. But House always presents things in a way that paints one of the options as being very rosy and the other as being completely bleak. In the real world it’s often not quite that way: both options aren’t great and there’s maybe two or three others that aren’t that great either, so you are choosing among a variety of options none of which is a clear winner. That’s more the real-world situation.”
Read the full discussion in “House, M.D. vs. Reality


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