ROCHESTER, MINN (TheSkunk.org) — Dr. Julian Casitas, Director of Internal Medicine for the Mayo Clinic, turns to the Fox medical drama “House” for help with his most difficult cases.
“The quicker you can diagnose a patient, the quicker you can treat them and the better their chances of survival,” explained Casitas, who claims he has benefited greatly from House’s trial-and-error approach. “While Dr. House goes through several wrong diagnoses before eventually coming up with the correct one — usually late in the fourth act — I don’t have to make all those mistakes, because I can fast forward to the end to get the right answer.”
Although he acknowledges his TV counterpart is a fictional character, Casitas credits the show with helping him save hundreds of lives.
“Last year, I had a patient who complained of a horrible burning sensation in his stomach,” said Casitas. “I was completely stumped. Then I remembered an episode in season three where Dr. House had a patient with the exact same symptoms.”
Casitas said he raced home and searched through his DVD library (“I have all the complete seasons”) until he found the episode, in which House figures out that his patient had been given rat poison by a jilted lover.
“It all started to make sense. I decided my own patient must have been slipped rat poison by an ex-girlfriend or a hooker. I wondered if she got the idea by watching that very same episode.”
Most of Casitas’s patients are near death when they come to him and don’t seem to be aware of how their disease were detected.
“Once I figure out which episode matches their condition, I show it to my patients so they can see they’re not alone. I tell them, ‘Who would you rather have looking after you: a single, solitary physician like me or a whole staff of really smart TV writers who spend all day researching bizarre crap like this?'”
Casitas subsequently treated his patient for rat poisoning. The patient died the next morning. An autopsy revealed a burst appendix and no traces of the pesticide.
“Unfortunately, TV medicine is not an exact science,” admitted Casitas. “Sometimes there’s a sound story reason for someone to die; sometimes it’s just gratuitous.”
He added: “Just like real life.”