Gregory House: A Revolutionary in Diagnostic Medicine

HealthcareJune 16, 2014

Revolutions do not happen without victims, and the medical revolutionary Gregory House, titular character of the Fox TV show "House", is no exception. Whether or not House is a good doctor is debatable; his ethics are questionable, and he is rude to both patients and coworkers. But his radical approach shakes up the medical establishment, and he saves more than a few lives. Here are four ways that House is a medical revolutionary:

  1. He takes chances with treatment decisions. Doctors are often reluctant to treat patients if they can't be sure about the diagnosis — and with good reason. Many treatments have side effects and risks. House takes drastic chances, sometimes jeopardizing his patients' health, when he prescribes controversial treatments. Fortunately, more often than not, he ends up saving the patients in the end.
  1. He does not trust his patients. Because good doctors treat their patients with respect and consideration, they typically give their patients the benefit of the doubt. House's suspicion and cynicism lead him to find answers and notice details other doctors may miss.
  1. He experiments on himself. House doesn't only experiment with patients — sometimes he tries radical treatment approaches on himself first. The fact that he is willing to risk his own life is what makes him a true revolutionary, but it also makes him a victim of his own mad genius.
  1. He breaks both legal and ethical rules. House is willing to break the law for his patients or rather, for his own satisfaction in solving a case. He also blatantly ignores many of medicine's ethical rules. Because this is a TV show, his blatant disregard for policy and law often results in miraculous successes; in reality, this carelessness can have real, lasting negative consequences.

Would you want Gregory House as a doctor? Probably not. In fact, it is likely that House would have been expelled from medicine almost immediately because he does not follow its ethical guidelines. However, it's possible that the health care system can still learn a few lessons from House, even if his methods need to be considered with extreme scrutiny.

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