February 14, 2010 / 9:18 PM / 9 years ago

TV medical dramas show viewers the wrong response

British actor Hugh Laurie accepts the favorite TV drama award for his show "House" at the 2010 People's Choice Awards in Los Angeles January 6, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Medical teams from “ER” or “House” may race to respond to a seizure but nearly half of the time the TV doctors and nurses do the wrong thing, according to a Canadian study.

Researchers from Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, screened the popular medical dramas “Grey’s Anatomy,” “House,” “Private Practice” and “ER” to see if TV medical dramas were helping to educate the public about first aid and seizures.

The researchers found in 327 episodes screened, 59 seizures occurred. Fifty-one seizures took place in a hospital. Nearly all first aid was performed by nurses or doctors.

But the study found inappropriate practices such as holding the person down, trying to stop involuntary movements or putting something in the person’s mouth, occurred in 25 cases, or nearly 46 percent of the incidents.

First aid management was shown appropriately in 17 seizures, or about 29 percent, and appropriateness of first aid could not be determined in 15 incidents, or 25 percent, according to the study released Sunday.

Researcher Andrew Moeller said television dramas were potentially a powerful method of educating the public so it was a concern to find that TV shows inaccurately showed seizure management half the time.

“People with epilepsy should lobby the television industry to adhere to guidelines for first aid management of seizures,” Moeller said in a statement.

The study is to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s Annual Meeting in Toronto in April.

Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Patricia Reaney

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