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House Md: Beneficence Vs. Autonomy Essay

1158 words - 5 pages

House M.D. uses the consistent lying of patients and a contrasting lecture to further explore the conflict between beneficence and autonomy in medical ethics. Medical autonomy is the ability for a patient to make his or her own decision when it comes to their health. Medical beneficence however, is the doctor’s responsibility to maximize the benefits of the patient and minimize the cost. These two parts of medical ethics are constantly in conflict throughout the entire House series, with the motto of the show being “Everybody Lies”. The main character House, with his cynical and untrusting nature, is the ideal doctor to deal with these, sometimes unknowingly deceitful patients. The chosen episode “Three Stories” exhibits this deception of patients with a gripping detective-like story of three patients who all have leg pain, but one of them is lying about the source of the pain.
The main characters of this series consist of House and his fellow co-workers James Wilson, Lisa Cuddy, Eric Foreman, Allison Cameron, and Robert Chase. The more important of these characters being James Wilson, who is Dr. House’s only real friend and acts as his conscience in many cases. The typical episode starts with a cold open showing an event outside of the hospital that eventually leads to the symptoms for that week’s patient. The team arrives at different basic diagnoses and presents them to House who discounts their findings, claiming them to be missing unconsidered factors. The clues are missing often because the patient has intentionally or unintentionally lied about the symptoms or circumstances. These factors lead to the patient being misdiagnosed and, in some cases, mistreated multiple times over the episode. This consistent misdirection that is caused by the patients leads to House’s statement that “Everybody Lies”. This statement is chosen to be the basic theme of the TV series, stating that even if patients think they are telling the doctor everything they need to know, there are always underlying factors that the patient may be hiding that could help the diagnosis.
The episode “Three Stories” the three different patients all have the same basic leg pain, but the cause of them is all different. The three patients are a farmer who claims to have been bitten by a snake, a volleyball player, and a middle aged golfer. All but one of the patients have some sort of moral flaw, one being a drug addict and the other being a farmer protecting his aggressive dog. These moral flaws lead to the patients leaving out information which could lead to a correct diagnosis.
The episode starts with House giving a lecture to medical students about three previous cases of leg pain, one of them is lying to get drugs and one of them will die if not treated immediately. When a student in the lecture asks why he doesn’t know what they were doing when the injury happened saying “You didn’t ask? You didn’t take a history?” and House wittingly responds with “Of course, but all that...

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