Hollywood has a way of glamorizing medicine and the film “Dr. Strange” is no exception.
In the movie, Dr. Strange, who is an accomplished neurosurgeon suffers a debilitating car accident. His hands after surgery are left with nerve injury and this makes him unable to practice medicine. At his physical therapy appointment, the therapist mentions someone who had overcome an even worse injury. Curious, Strange asks the therapist, who promptly gives Strange the former patient’s name.
Well, in today’s world of strict government oversight, there is a law called HIPAA.This law strictly prohibits any disclosure of medical information to anybody except those directly involved in the care of the patient. So this physical therapist, had he disclosed such information in the real world, would have faced hefty fines and even loss of license.
Turns out Dr. Strange’s girlfriend is an ER doctor.In one scene she diagnoses a patient with a bullet in the brain and promptly asks Strange to take the patient to surgery immediately, as the bullet is pressing on a vital structure in the brain stem. She assists Strange in surgery. In the real world of ER life, an ER doctor only very rarely is called to assist in surgery and then only until a qualified assistant arrives. In my decades of ER practice,I have had to assist in C sections 3 or 4 times. These were all done urgently and in every case an assistant arrived shortly afterwards to take over. ER doctors need to stay in the emergency room.
Another scene shows Strange with a chest wound over his heart. He felt he had a pericardial tamponade, which can occur when blood from the heart exits say in this case through a stab wound. The blood can collect in the sac around the heart, which can in turn severely limit the ability of the heart to contract. Death quickly ensues, unless the fluid is drained.
Well Strange’s ER doctor girlfriend puts him on a trauma gurney and proceeds without any one else present in the room to place a needle through the chest into the sac around the heart. When someone sustains a serious chest wound, multiple members of either a trauma team or in smaller hospitals ER staff, rapidly converge on the patient. IVs, monitors are placed. Labs drawn. A bedside ultrasound of the heart is performed and using the ultrasound probe as a guide, a needle can be inserted around the heart. A single ER doctor alone with such a critical patient never happens.
Despite all the medical errors, Dr. Strange really was a great movie!