Thursday, November 14, 2013

Should the Blacklist be Blacklisted?

This week I'm analyzing some of the new Fall TV shows-- medically speaking.

I've always been a fan of James Spader. No one does evil genius as good as he does.

The Blacklist is set up similarly to Hannibal (the first Anthony Hopkins movie) in the sense that he is a criminal mastermind and for some reason, as yet undiscovered, is only willing to talk with an FBI ingenue about criminal plots that he is aware of.

In one of the early episodes, the two attend a fund-raising event for a human rights advocate who is being targeted for murder. It just so happens that she's really trafficking humans and thus perhaps is justly murdered to prevent her from continuing this criminal enterprise. Of course, the young FBI agent is a big fan of this woman and has written papers about her humanitarian efforts.

When the trafficker's secret is exposed, James Spader's characters says:

"She's been given a lethal cocktail of the same barbiturates she used to drug her children. I have the antitode."

Then the FBI agent proceeds to do the pen to the trachea maneuver to help her breathe.

And my eye-rolling begins.

First of all-- what are the barbiturates? These would be drugs like amytal sodium (AKA a supposed truth serum drug), phenobarbital and Seconal. Oh, by the way, there is not an "antidote" for this type of overdose. There are only two antidotes for overdoses and they are Narcan for opiates and Flumazenil for Benzodiazepines (like Valium).

The purpose of an emergency tracheotomy (the pen to the throat for breathing) is to bypass an upper airway obstruction. The effects of an OD of barbiturates is a decrease in breathing or breathing cessation but the airway is not obstructed. To "save" this patient-- all our trusty FBI agent needed to do was give her mouth to mouth and all that extra blood could have been avoided.

You can read more about Barbiturate OD here


9 comments:

  1. I tried watching this show, but there were so many inconsistencies that I just changed channel. It's so sad because alot of people base their medical knowledge on tv shows. You would think the writers would research before writing a scene in for accuracy.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Katrina. It does make me wonder what KIND of research they do. If they ever talk to a medical person . . . like ever.

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  2. Jordyn, I stopped watching medical shows on TV after Marcus Welby retired, and I studiously avoid TV dramas now (except for Blue Bloods), so I can't comment on TV show inaccuracies, but if this is an example of the writing in Blacklist, I'm glad I didn't waste my time.

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    1. Sadly . . . it is. I've not quite made up my mind. I try not to let medical stuff be the lynch pin because none of them do an adequate job. ER was pretty good for me but other than that . . . it's not very accurate.

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  3. Laura Cynthia ChambersNovember 15, 2013 at 8:20 AM

    Watched Elementary last night and wonder if that ep will make it into one of your posts coming up. Lots of room for potential inaccuracies there...

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    1. Can you give me the title of the episode, Laura, and I'll check it out!

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    2. Laura Cynthia ChambersNovember 18, 2013 at 8:13 AM

      It's Nov. 14th's ep, "Blood Is Thicker". I dunno if there actually were any mistakes, but the episode has a medical-based storyline.

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  4. I think we forget that it's a tv show, totally made up!! I guess when you have medical knowledge, you can't help but call out everything they do, however, it is a series, fiction (total make believe) so let's just enjoy it. It's a really nice show.

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    1. Dear Anonymous,

      I agree-- it's a good show, but you don't have to sacrifice accuracy for a good story line.

      The times I have spent interviewing experts for accuracy I've always come up with a better story and one not likely to make people want to throw the book in the trash.

      That's the risk-- when people don't find it accurate enough, they are pulled out of the story bubble which is a problem for any writer. Because they might not come back.

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