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Hot Topic Tuesday: How Medically-Accurate is Pop Culture?

Written on May 15, 2012 at 3:16 pm , by

Your doctor may not look like McDreamy, but you should trust him more than the actor! (Photo by Susan Pittard)

“Ten blade—stat!” You’ve likely followed along (or tried to) as the paramedics rush patients in from ambulance to emergency room to operating room, all the while shouting precise medical terms to each other, on intense shows like Grey’s Anatomy and ER. It’s fun to get a peek into the powerful world of life-saving, and medical TV shows, movies and other pop culture references allow us to do just that (minus the real-life pain and blood).

But those of us who aren’t doctors have a tough time distinguishing what could be real and what is just drama. A recent New York Times article called out the new HBO series Girls for disseminating inaccurate information about the sexually transmitted infection HPV. The writer claims that an episode of Girls misinformed viewers about the prevalence of HPV (it is so common that at least 50 percent of  sexually active individuals get it at some point in their lives, according to the CDC), the severity of it and what is involved in testing and treatment for the STI.

Now tell us: Is this taking fictional dramas too seriously? Or do writers on health programs owe it to their viewers to have medical advisors on staff to guarantee the accuracy of their content?

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