Intended for healthcare professionals


Predictions of hypoxaemia at high altitude in children with cystic fibrosis

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 19 September 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:780
  1. P N Gordon (patrickg{at}, senior house officer in intensive care,
  2. S Williamson, senior registrar in anaesthetics,
  3. P G Lawler, consultant in intensive care
  1. South Cleveland Hospital, Middlesbrough TS4 3BW
  1. Correspondence to: Dr P N Gordon, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, South Cleveland Hospital, Middlesbrough TS4 3BW


    Objective: To determine the frequency and accuracy with which cardiopulmonary resuscitation is portrayed in British television medical dramas.

    Design: Observational study.

    Subjects: 64 episodes of three major British television medical dramas: Casualty, Cardiac Arrest, and Medics.

    Main outcome measures: Frequency of cardiopulmonary resuscitation shown on television; age, sex, and diagnosis of the patients undergoing resuscitation; rate of survival through resuscitation.

    Results: Overall 52 patients had a cardiorespiratory arrest on screen and 3 had a respiratory arrest alone, all the arrests occurring in 40 of the 64 episodes. Of the 52 patients having cardiorespiratory arrest, 32 (62%) underwent an attempt at cardiopulmonary resuscitation; 8 attempts were successful. All 3 of the patients having respiratory arrests alone received ventilatory support and survived. On 48% of occasions, victims of cardiac arrest seemed to be less than 35 years old.

    Conclusions: Cardiorespiratory resuscitation is often depicted in British television medical dramas. Patients portrayed receiving resuscitation are likely to be in a younger age group than in real life. Though the reasons for resuscitation are more varied and more often associated with trauma than in reality, the overall success rate is nevertheless realistic. Widespread overoptimism of patients for survival after resuscitation cannot necessarily be blamed on British television medical dramas.

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