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TV medical dramas misleading on seizure first aid

About half the time, the doctors and nurses on popular fictional TV medical shows give improper seizure first aid that, in reality, could lead to broken teeth, bruises or dislocations, according to a study to be presented in April at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting. Epileptologists noticed a trend of "people doing very inappropriate things on television and seeing some of the same sorts of things happening to our patients in real life," said Dr. Jeremy Moeller, who co-authored the study. "It's impossible to definitively prove the connection, but one of the potential sources of misinformation is TV." For example, bystanders should not try to hold down someone experiencing a generalized tonic-clonic, or grand mal, seizure, nor attempt to force open the patient's mouth, said Dr. Moeller, a postdoctoral clinical fellow at the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center in the Columbia University Medical Center Dept. of Neurology in New York. Dr. Moeller and his colleagues examined 327 episodes of "Grey's Anatomy," "House," "Private Practice" and "ER" that contained 59 seizures. Though nearly all seizure management care was provided by characters identified on the programs as doctors and nurses, they performed inappropriate first aid in 25 of the cases -- 45.8% of the time. The correct first aid was delivered in 28.8% of the seizure cases, while the quality of the care was "indeterminate" in the remainder. Previous research has shown that patients, misinformed by fictional TV programs, overrate the effectiveness of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and misunderstand how the U.S. organ donation and transplantation system functions. Proper seizure first aid that emphasizes a relatively hands-off approach might not be as interesting to watch, Dr. Moeller said. "We noticed that the doctors and nurses responding to these seizures were not remaining calm," he said. "That serves dramatic purposes, but it's not the way we'd educate the family members of our patients, which is that at the time of the seizure, put something under their heads, put them on their sides and don't panic." Guidelines on proper first aid for seizures are available from the Epilepsy Foundation of America ( The full and original article can be found here:
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