Source: The Mercury, 27 June, 1996, p.20


Heartless side to
television heroics

   UNREALISTIC recoveries 
regularly portrayed in widely- 
viewed television shows such 
as ER, Rescue 911 and 
Chicago Hope may be a cata-
lyst for pressure on real-life 
doctors to perform resusci-
tations doomed to failure, re-
searchers say.

   Cardiopulmonary resusci-
tation (CPR) saves no more 
than 30% of cases outside 
hospitals and just 15% of 
patients inside hospitals, this 
week's New Scientist maga-
zine said.

   But in 97 episodes of the 
three shows watched by re-
searchers at a North Carolina 
medical centre, 77% of pat-
ients given CPR were revived.

   CPR is most frequently per-
formed on older patients 
already in hospital.

   But in the more colourful 
televised versions, subjects 
were usually strapping young 
male and female victims of 
car crashes or shootings.

   Research group team leader 
Susan Diem has called on 
television producers to inject 
more realism into their CP 
dramas.

   But she acknowledges it's 
unlikely about three quarters 
of television doctors' patients 
are likely to be sacrificed to 
realism.

   "It would be kind of a 
downer and we understand 
that," she said.

   AAP


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