Next time the brilliant Dr. House resuscitates a patient using a pair of tweezers, household twine and the foil from a chewing gum wrapper, you're right to be skeptical. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics analyzed a full season of two hugely popular medical shows — ABC's Grey's Anatomy and Fox's House — and discovered that the dramas were "rife" with incidents that violated professional codes of conduct.
Analyzing the second seasons of the shows, researcher Matthew Czarny pinpointed 179 depictions of bioethical dilemmas, ranging from issues surrounding informed consent to organ-transplant eligibility to experimentation on human subjects. Violations of informed consent were most frequent; the researchers found that in 18 of 22 cases of "ethically questionable departures from standard practice," the implicated physician was not penalized for an overzealous pursuit of a favorable outcome. (That's because Dr. Gregory House plays by his own rules! How many lives have you saved this week?)
The study cited earlier research that found more than 80 percent of medical and nursing students watch televised medical dramas. But lest television serve as a springboard for real-world educational discussions, the researchers cite some of the shows' most egregious examples of ethical misconduct. Episodes of Grey's Anatomy featured an intern forging an attending physician's signature and another intern administering medical care while drunk. Oh, those wacky interns!
In fact, Grey's Anatomy is a treasure trove of bad behavior, with researchers noting 58 incidents of sexual misconduct in the hospital hallways. (The lesson is clear: Don't hire attractive doctors.) In fact, out of 178 interactions between medical professionals documented in the two series, only nine were deemed "exemplary."
The study appeared in the April issue of the Journal of Medical Ethics, which Dr. House uses to line the bottom of his birdcage.
Understatement of the year
"The whole phenomenon of male pregnancy is full of conflict and far more complex than we had previously realized" — Texas A&M biologist Kim Paczolt, whose research found that male pipefish, who along with seahorses are the only males that actually give birth, can become either a nurturing or "deadbeat" dad, depending on the relationship he has with the mom. (So maybe it's not so complex after all?)
Why else would you dress up in a tuxedo to wave a wand?
The paper "A Systematic Inventory of Motives for Becoming an Orchestra Conductor: A Preliminary Study" appeared in a recent edition of Psychology of Music. The survey of more than 100 orchestral conductors revealed the following factor as hugely important to their career choice: "generally considering oneself as a maestro."
And finally, a fancy way of saying "size matters"
The paper "Thou shalt sport a banana in thy pocket: Gendered body size ideals in advertising and popular culture" appears in the March edition of Marketing Theory. To wit: "The present article addresses the issue of how idealized accounts of penis size — a bodily feature that plays a crucial role in how masculinity is constructed today — gets produced and reproduced through advertising and popular culture. ... These sets of discourses function to give an ambivalent message in which males are caught in a discursive cross-fire where they are potentially made to feel anxious about their anxiousness and embarrassed about their embarrassedness."
It's true. Just ask the skateboarders ...
The Cocktail Napkin appears at the back page of each issue of Miller-McCune magazine, highlighting current research that merits a raised eyebrow or a painful grin.