They take care of us when we’re sick and tell us we need to excercise more. How lucky for us to have a day to celebrate our doctor’s. In honor of National Doctor’s Day we considered some recent headlines in the medical field, as well as those in the fictional world. We have all heard the saying that “life imitates art” and this is true in the art of storytelling as well.
The Medical World: A Breeding Ground for Innovation and Creativity
The most successful doctors (on and off the screen) are those who can solve the toughest medical problems. We have considered three notable fictional doctors and their real life counterparts in celebration of doctors today.
House, which aired from 2004-2012, featured the tales of Dr. Gregory House, a character often compared to Sherlock Holmes due to his use of deductive reasoning.
House would eliminate diagnoses logically as each were proven to be impossible, the same way Holmes solves mysteries. In one specific episode, House treated a patient suffering from colbalt poisoning. His diagnosis came, after much deliberation, from an unexpected source. House’s patient was suffering from severe heart failure as a direct result of her previous hip replacement. The patient had her hip replaced and now debris from the replacement were making her ill. The replacement contained colbalt features which elevated colbalt levels in her blood, ultimatly causing severe heart failure. What makes this story interesting isn’t the illness or diagnoses. It seems that Dr. House inspired a real life diagnosis of colbalt poisoning. In May 2012, a patient was referred to a clinic in Germany with complaints of loss of sight and hearing, as well as fever.
Doctors learned that the patient had severe heart failure, but they did not find any evidence of coronary artery disease. Upon futher evidence, doctors concluded that the patient was suffering from Cobalt poisoning from his previous metal-on-plastic hip replacement. Doctors were able to schedule a new hip replacement with ceramic materials and begin the healing process for the patient. While there is now some controversy as to whether the doctors diagnosed the colbalt posining as a result of watching the show House or through their own reasoning, the story gained enough traction to be featured in the Huffington Post.
High Profile Plastics
In 2003 the controversial FX original NipTuck took the world by storm. The plot of the 6 season award winning show followed Dr. McNamara and Dr. Troy. The partners brought their practice to the spotlight in Los Angeles, by performing high profile surgeries for A-list celebs, family, and annonymous patients. Dr. McNamara and Dr. Troy agreed on one thing, they wanted to prove that they were the best the industry has seen, though they didn’t always agree on “how”. During every consultation, the pair would ask the patient to “tell us what you don’t like about yourself” and the two would take on the project of “fixing” the patient. The world watched on for six years as the duo took on some of the riskiest plastic surgeries, all while listening to their favorite tunes and dealing with life. It seemed that there could never be a plastic surgery practice with as much charisma, charm, and controversy as McNamara/Troy.
That is until Spring 2015… Snapchatters were taken aback when Dr. Miami began snapping his plastic surgeries, live! For those of you who may not know, SnapChat is the latest social media craze where users can upload ‘snaps’ of their lives that automatically delete after 24 hours. Snapchatters can now watch Dr. Miami (Dr. Michael Salzhauer) who is a board-certified plastic surgeon, perform some of plastic’s most intimate procedures. This may sound like a legal nightmare, yet aside from getting patient consent, Dr. Miami has a marketing strategy. He is quite clear about what types of procedures he likes to perform and understands that the optimal patient is under 50. Social media is the perfect way to reach his ideal audience of women aged 18-40. Potential patients can see exactly what they will undergo in surgery and what the results will look like. It’s the perfect review! The similarities between Dr Miami and team McNamara/Troy are strong. Both surgical teams are not afraid of a little controversy and use mainstream culture to their advantage. Snapchatters watch Dr. Miami perform while he dances to his favorite music and discusses current events. He is the new and improved McNamara/Troy, all in one, causing us to be intrigued by plastic surgery all over again. (That being said, we think you look perfect just the way you are!) Now for our next comparison…
Innovative Change Agents
Innovation is at the core of any memorable surgery. This is much of the intrigue of Grey’s Anatomy, as the surgical staff are constantly coming up with new ways to fix old problems. The team has been healing and enhancing the quality of fictional lives since 2005 for 12 seasons. One of the more memorable surgeries perfromed on the show was the use of 3D printing to build vital organs. Meredith Grey initiated the acqusition and use of the printer and for each subsequent season, at least one surgery is possible because of the printer. The first use of the printer was a nerve wracking episode where viewers were anxiously waiting to see if the printer would work. The 3D printer has been used on the show to create a heart, new piece of the rib cage, kidneys, as well as many other body parts. It has become an invaluable tool in the fictional show. Yet could something like that be possible in real life? This may seem like an impossibility, yet recently Dr. Ralph Mobbs, an Australian neurosurgeon, used a 3D printer to replace vertebrate in one of his patients. The patient had a cancerous tumor at the top of his spine where the neck and head connect. Dr Mobb’s stated “It involves exposure at the top of the neck, where the neck and the head meet, and it’s essentially [detaching] the patient’s head from his neck and taking the tumor out and reattaching his head back to his neck.” The replacement piece of vertebrate was generated from a 3D printer and proved to be a success. The surgery took 15 hours and was a world-first. The patient is alive and has a much better quality of life due to medical innovation.
The constant innovations in science and technology are allowing exciting new ways to improve overall health — these doctors are just a few examples of life imitating art and vice versa. We in the fintech (aka: financial technology) industry love seeing traditionally-ridgid sectors fused with technology. Dr. Miami’s use of social media to promote his work as well as the innovations in plastic surgery are a lesson for anyone who is unsure of how to remain relevant in an technological world. Printing organic materials seems like something too futuristic to achieve, yet the merging of science and technology is here. Do you know of any amazing innovation in the medical world? Comment below, we would love to hear the story!