Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mythbusting: Vet med and TV

I'm sure there a lot of professions that have details inaccurately portrayed on TV, but I can only speak to the ones related to veterinary medicine (well, and some human medical details as well).  So today I wanted to write about a few of the ones I've seen recently.

The 12 gauge needle
For this one there was a wound on a victim that was made by an unknown weapon.  As it turned out the weapon was a 12 gauge needle which is "only used by vets for large dogs and farm animals." False.  Other than for implanting a microchip I have never even seen, much less used a 12 gauge needle, not even in a horse.  And microchip needles are only that large because of necessity.  In fact this is the reason microchips are frequently placed while the pet is under anesthesia.  Also in this program the victim had an infection at the injection site because "veterinary drugs are not made as sterile as human drugs."  Also false.  If veterinary drugs are not sterile do they not think that animals would get infections or illnesses from them as well?  In fact many drugs, especially controlled substances such as this one, come from the same suppliers and are the same brand names in both kinds of medicine.

Use of ketamine to sedate a victim is a popular TV theme.  While ketamine is used in people, it's more common in veterinary medicine. Ketamine also has potential for abuse-street name "Special K."  Therefore it works nicely into story lines as it's available to both medical professionals as well as on the "street."  OK, that's the truth part.  Here's the myth part.  Typical scenario for TV is that someone sneaks up behind the victim, gives them a quick needle prick and the person instantly slumps over.  Problem with this are:
1.  It would take A LOT of ketamine to knock out a person, not just a quick 1/2 second stick.
2.  Ketamine burns given intramuscularly.  You could not give a large amount (probably not any amount) without the person noticing.
3.  Ketamine takes awhile to cause sedation intramuscularly, it is not instantaneous.

So there you have it.  Myths busted.  I'll add more if I see them!


Greg S said...

Great post - I am sure we all see these myths in our industry. I am in computers/software and they have tons of far stretches that are completely unlikely. My constant favorite is taking a picture or a video from a low resolution source and 'cleaning it up' to show details that just aren't there. Its not possible to add more detail to an image like that!

Marsha K. said...

LOL - I watched the same show. I don't think we even have a 12 gauge needle in our clinic (other than the microchips). Ouch!