Even though it's good that people were trying to produce movies and TV-series, whether it relates directly to or not to medicine, in order to educate people but sometimes, the mistakes being shown by a certain movie were too much that it can create misconceptions among laymen. I remembered when one of my specialists started his daily ward round with this topic by showing us various screenshots of movies which utilised the wrong medical equipment for wrong purposes.
In this article, I'm going to highlight some of the things or concept which have been portrayed in the wrong way which can lead to bad consequences or even influences.
Being Rendered Unconscious In Two Seconds
Chloroform is an interesting chemical. It has been portrayed by lots of movies out there that it can be a useful agent to be used by kidnappers. I mean, you just apply a certain amount on your handkerchief, cover the nose and the mouth of your victim and 2 seconds later, poof, they will be rendered unconscious. The thing is if we were to put a certain amount of chloroform onto a conduit for kidnapping people, the concentration that can be considered as reasonable might reduce the success of kidnapping your victim. I mean, it will require at least five minutes for someone to become unconscious after they breathe them in and I'm sure, they wouldn't stay still or that can be awkward for both you and your victim. The thing is, it is possible to make people unconscious in a shorter amount of duration that would make your kidnapping effort a success, but the thing is, they will be pretty much dead. To make it work, you will need a much-concentrated chloroform but people might react differently to that kind of dosage.
Some people might experience a severe bout of vomiting, brain damage, death due to suffocation (not chloroform) or just dead, potentially due to acute respiratory distress syndrome caused by a higher dose of chloroform; good luck in getting your victim conscious again. It's not a really great agent for committing crime and today, chloroform is not a standard issue anaesthetic agent to be used in surgery as the window of safety is too narrow. There are several cases in the past in which chloroform has been accused as the potential criminal's method of killing, kidnapping and raping patients but they were actually not. In 1986, there was an alleged homosexual rape case in which the media has been blaming chloroform as the potential agent that could have made that crime successful. Upon investigation, a trace of chloroform was found in the urine, but it is not concentrated enough to cause immediate unconsciousness. It was revealed later that the victim's urine contained a high trace of diazepam, a benzodiazepine and its byproduct.
It's not possible for chloroform to be used as the main chemical to commit this kind of crime for two reasons:
It's difficult to maintain the airway of the victim while the criminal was trying to do something else at the same time. Even the most skilful anaesthetist would have some problems dealing with it.
It's necessary for a consistent amount of chloroform being provided to the victim as to maintain unconsciousness while ensuring their airway are not obstructed by the tongue. This is usually achieved by supporting the victim's chin and without intubation, it is a difficult manoeuvre to be maintained.
In conclusion? Chloroform can be a great tool to kill someone, but if you want to kidnap someone, there are better chemicals/medications that you can use which I'm not going to mention here for obvious reasons.
Grab Your Chest* "That's Heart Attack!"
One of the commonest misconceptions which have been portrayed in the media regarding heart illnesses is this one. If someone grabbing their chest, it's a sign of an impending heart attack. Although it is reasonable to assume that people who experience chest pain could have a heart attack, but so do other diseases. The truth is, people who were getting a heart attack rarely act that way and due to this misconception, patients might have arrived at the emergency department later than they were supposed to; it's all because the public doesn't recognise the actual manifestation of people with heart attack and this can be bad for the patient themselves. In one case which I have attended in the clinic, a patient diagnosed himself to have a heart attack when he's only experienced a bout of gastric pain. Learning from a Google (without supervision) can be bad for you and now I know learning from a movie can be much worse (depending on the movie). Some of the symptoms which are usually experienced by people who were getting a heart attack are:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Numbness in the arm
- Pain in the neck and shoulder
Unlike what has been portrayed in the television show, people who experienced heart attack do not deteriorate quickly and the symptoms can be much milder. Some people might experience chest pain but it is not stabbing pain which sometimes described by the media; some people don't even feel chest pain, especially women. Recognising other symptoms can be helpful and if you suspect people to have some kind of heart attack episode, it is crucial for you to call an ambulance; it's better to overdiagnose than to underdiagnose when it comes to this kind of illness.
What if someone flatlining? Contrary to popular television shows, they can't be revived by simply using the defibrillators. I know, the device is like God-given, can revive anyone who was dead but the truth is, people who were flatlined do not respond to the shock given by the defibrillators; they correct heart rhythm, not starting one. The electrical paddles were rarely used nowadays as we now have sticky pads which can be applied to the specific regions on the chest that would be able to deliver a certain amount of shock to correct heart rhythm. We do have a much more simplified automated defibrillators which can be found in various facilities (malls, parks). They were easy to handle by laymen and the machine would give you instruction and warning, before giving a shock to patients. Giving first aid to people with heart problems can be life-saving and at the same time, sparing them from experiencing much more dire consequences.
Shooting Your Gun
Holding a gun with a single hand is undeniably cool but to shoot it would be a bad idea, for most people. Even with the smallest gun, the recoil can surely knock an adult over, sometimes causing a few joints dislocation. Properly bracing yourself if you really need to shoot a gun with a single hand would be the first step as without it, you would surely hurt yourself. It's not like people didn't shoot with a single hand in this world. In the 15th century or early 19th century, people often shoot while holding the gun with a single hand; they need to manage horses at the same time. It would be bad if they were to fall while using two hands to shoot a guy. It is a fact however that the majority of policemen in this world had never shot at someone, not even once, throughout their entire career.
Like what has been portrayed by movies, being shot will not necessarily make them fly across the room; unless he received a direct blow from a shotgun or bazooka. Well, in that case, the thing that would be thrown backwards would be meats; lots of meats. It is a well-known fact that while bullet might be packed with a lot of energies, they were lost while travelling through your body. Instead of spending the energy pushing you backwards, the energy was spent to travel through. Pretty cool, huh? That's why, if the shot was not fatal, people rarely know they were shot until they seen the wound.
Do you realise the kind of equipment that is provided to you if you go to a shooting range? You will be provided with ear and eye protection to prevent damages to your hearing and sight. Even the smallest gun can be quite loud, automatic weapons or any other gun usually produced 140 decibels sound which can cause instant hearing loss. According to an article written by Slepecky in 1986, a 140 decibels sound would cause overstretch of the inner ear tissue causing damage to the stereocilia and supporting sensory cells. It doesn't matter whether you are only exposed to it once, as long as it exceeds the maximum decibels that our inner ear would be able to tolerate, then you would lose your hearing. It's a common condition in 2012 among soldiers which affected almost 270,000 veterans (they either lose or experienced ringing in the ear, a condition called tinnitus) in the United States Army.
It is also possible for your eyes to be damaged by gunpowder dust after taking a few shots. There is a reason why you were provided with a safety goggle for shooting purposes. The gunpowder dust can cause a burning sensation to your skin and if it had a direct contact with the eyes, then I wouldn't need to tell you what would happen, am I right?
It's easy to be influenced by various information provided by the media but we need to learn to become sceptical so that we can uncover the right way of doing things. Unlike what has been portrayed in the movie, if you hit your head while doing an acrobatic move to avoid from being shot, your chances of getting internal injuries is pretty much high. You can bleed to death and surely not still running around, shooting at your enemy; our body is much fragile than what you ever perceived.
- The criminal use of chloroform
- Heart Attack
- Two-Handed vs. One-Handed
- Impact of noise on hearing in the military
- Overview of mechanical damage to the inner ear: noise as a tool to probe cochlear function.
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