Epilepsy Talk

Popular TV Dramas Portray First Aid For Seizures Inaccurately | March 29, 2010

This enlightening (and scary) article from “Medical News Today”…

“Research from Canada shows that almost half of the time, doctors and nurses on popular TV medical dramas respond inappropriately to seizures, suggesting that watching TV is not the best way to learn what to do if you are present when someone has a seizure.

Study author Andrew Moeller said in a statement that TV drama is a powerful medium for educating the public about how to deal with first aid and seizures, but he and his colleagues found that half of the time the public is being misinformed.

For the study, the researchers screened all episodes of the higher-rated US medical dramas, namely:

Grey’s Anatomy,
House, MD,
Private Practice,
and the last 5 seasons of ER.

They found 59 seizures depicted in a total of 327 episodes. 51 of the seizures took place in a hospital, and nearly all the first aid was administered by “nurses” and “doctors”.

They counted 25 cases, nearly 46% of the time, of seizures handled incorrectly by either holding the person down, trying to stop the involuntary movements, or putting things in the person’s mouth: all mythical measures to manage seizures.

They found 17 cases, or 29% of the time, of seizures handled correctly, and 15 (25%) of cases where they couldn’t establish whether the first aid given was appropriate or not.

In a statement, Moeller described their findings as, a “call to action” and urged people with epilepsy to: “Lobby the television industry to adhere to guidelines for first aid management of seizures.”



  1. Hi Phylis,

    I do not watch the shows. One time I did watch House, MD. I saw a fake seizure and false taking care of it. I have never watched that show again. I did not watch Dr. Oz on the Oprah show.

    I usually only watch the news on TV.



    Comment by Ruth Brown — March 29, 2010 @ 9:10 PM

  2. I’m a big fan of House,MD. (For better or for worse). And I was severely diappointed with the way epilepsy was treated.

    Ironically, “House” (Hugh Laurie) is in a band with Greg Grundberg, supporting epilepsy! Go figure…


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 29, 2010 @ 11:08 PM

  3. I figure Hugh Laurie wants to make money and does not care about how epilepsy is portrayed.



    Comment by Ruth Brown — March 30, 2010 @ 8:57 AM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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