LOS ANGELES, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, saves nearly double the number of lives on television than it does in real life, leading people to believe it is far more effective than doctors actually know it to be, according to a new study.
Researchers found that in general people had misconceptions about healthcare, and especially emergency healthcare, because of fictional embellishments meant to enhance storytelling. Despite television being for entertainment, the concern is that people make decisions about their healthcare based on inaccurate information.
"Most people have no knowledge of actual CPR survival and thus make medical care decisions for themselves and family members based on inaccurate assumptions," said Susan Enguidanos, an associate professor at the University of Southern California Davis, in a press release.
Researchers analyzed 91 episodes of the popular TV shows Grey's Anatomy and House that aired between 2010 and 2011, recording data on patient characteristics, CPR survival rates and goals of care.
In the 91 episodes, CPR was portrayed 46 times, with a survival rate of 69.6 percent. Among those people, 71.9 percent survived until they were discharged from the hospital and 15.6 percent died before discharge. In real life, the immediate survival rate is less than 37 percent, researchers said, and the long-term survival rate is around 13 percent.
The depiction of situations when CPR is used was inaccurate, researchers said, as trauma was part of the background story leading to CPR 40 percent of the time on TV, but that is only the case about 2 percent of the time. The researchers also said the ages of patients who receive CPR on TV tend mostly to be between the ages of 18 and 65, despite more than 60 percent of real-life CPR recipients being over the age of 65.
General misinformation from at least these two medical dramas is a problem, said Enguidanos, as 42 percent of older adults are getting information about healthcare -- such as treatment and chances of survival from a heart attack -- and the shows never discuss advance care planning and end-of-life choices.
"The findings from this study emphasize the need for improved physician-patient communication and discussions around advance care planning decisions, such as CPR," said Jaclyn Portanova, a researcher at USC Davis. "Without these discussions, patients may rely on misinformation from TV in their decision-making."
The study is published in Resuscitation.