Monday, January 5, 2009
I recently caught a very palliative care rerun of Scrubs that I had previously forgotten about. For those of you not familiar with this comedy, it premiered in 2001 and follows three interns and their friends through residency and now into their careers. In 2001, I was a medical student and I watched the show through my residency. It always seemed to capture some of the emotions I was dealing with at the time.
This episode entitled "My Five Stages" is about dealing with the death of a patient. In the clip below, the concept of the five stages of grief is introduced to a dying patient by a very interesting grief counselor. The episode goes on to follow the two doctors, JD and Cox, as they go through these stages themselves and come to terms about the loss of one of their favorite patients. Note the description JD gives about what it's like to die.
I have often thought Scrubs is the most realistic medical show. I never really got into any of the other medical shows because I hated all the drama. (How many bombings and shootings can one ER have anyway?) I know Scrubs is a comedy, so definitely exaggerated, but there is usually an element of truth in all of their humor. The situations and conversations may be over the top but I think it gets the emotional aspects right (always in a funny way).
Because it deals with the day to day struggle of the medical staff, there are frequent palliative care topics that come up. This scene from "My Long Goodbye" addresses the difficulty we have delivering bad news.
Another episode, "My Number One Doctor" deals with the ethical dilemma one of the doctors has when she discovers that her ALS patient had attempted suicide and was planning on trying again.
Scrubs is still coming out with new episodes but has changed networks from NBC to ABC. If you're interested you can see old reruns frequently on Comedy Central and other networks.