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How Fox ruined U.S. health care (no, it wasn't Glenn Beck)


This piece from Kaiser Health News argues Gregory House, the antiheroic doctor of Fox's medical series House, is not just a cantankerous and misanthropic old drug-addicted swine, but the guy who has wrecked our entire health-care system:

In an episode of House that aired in 2006, master diagnostician Gregory House orders a chest X-ray, an EKG, a bone marrow biopsy, a colonoscopy, an especially brutal skin biopsy, two stress tests, an MRI of the head and a series of blood, urine and sputum tests.

Pushing medical practice to the extreme may be the cost of keeping viewers hooked on Fox's hit show, which dramatizes the diagnoses of rare maladies. However, for patients treated in Mercer County, N.J., where House's mythical hospital is, that sequence of tests probably would tally charges of more than $9,200, according to New Choice Health, a Web site that compares hospital charges, and MTBC, a physician billing company.

In most cases, doctors say, that style of "shotgun testing" — a barrage of seemingly random tests — would do little to help patients or lead to a diagnosis. Policymakers, as part of the health care debate, also are talking up the importance of using medical knowhow more judiciously and effectively to rein in costs.

To be fair, House didn't do it alone, Kaiser says -- E.R. helped, too. My guess is that we now know what President Obama is going to say when he talks to the kids next week: He's going to tell them to make their parents watch Marcus Welby M.D. reruns every night.


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What about the story line on Desperate Housewives when the Terri Hatcher character, who has no medical insurance, marries a man she dislikes so she can have back surgery? Both rooted in TV unreality, but compared to House, the DW line is real.

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