When ER ended its 15-year run as a health drama last week, the Hollywood, Health & Society program waved goodbye sorrowfully.
Outliers: Ever wonder who TV doctors turn to for medical advice?
Thats because the TV show was a great vehicle through which the program disseminated timely, thoughtful and necessary medical informationfrom childhood obesity to the use of surgical checklists in the operating roomsays Sandra de Castro Buffington, director of the center. Well be so sad to see ER go; what a fabulous program its been.
Hollywood, Health & Society, housed at the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California, has played a behind-the-scenes role in many scripted television shows and movies.
It has received funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the past eight years to help ensure medical accuracy in entertainment, and more recently it was given money by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to explore global health topics.
Show writers contact the program, which reaches out to a network of physicians to ensure medical accuracy in the scripts. Buffington estimates there have been 800 inquires made over the years on at least 700 different health topics. The service is provided for free and the program does not receive any credits. Were not pushing an agenda, she says.
Still, the program has been influential. After ER aired one of its final episodes, depicting the surgical checklist, a hospital in New York had its physicians watch the show and another doctor in France asked for a clip of the show to use as a teaching tool, she says.
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