Man’s Life Saved Because His Doctor Watched “House”

And they say TV will rot your brain.

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© Mario Anzuoni/Reuters/Corbis

A German man with severe heart failure, fever, blindness, deafness, and enlarged lymph nodes went to a medical center for undiagnosed diseases, desperate to be treated by the best as he struggled to understand his unexplained condition.

But his real savior was Hugh Laurie’s irascible charisma.

The 55-year-old man’s deterioration had puzzled other doctors. But Dr. Juergen Schaefer, who treated the man, told the AP he diagnosed the man within five minutes.

Schaefer didn’t rely on medical textbooks to make his (correct) diagnosis. Instead, he used his memory of the U.S. television show House, which ran from 2004 to 2012 on Fox and told the story of a borderline-sociopathic medical doctor whose abrasive personality and generally poor decision making counter-balanced his uncanny ability to solve medical mysteries.

The unidentified man’s case reminded Schaefer of a House episode in which a woman (played by Candice Bergen) comes in suffering from heart failure and it turns out she has cobalt poisoning from her hip joint replacement. The German man, as it turns out, had cobalt poisoning from his hip joint replacement as well.

Schaefer isn’t just a casual House fan. No, he actually teaches medical students using House as a way to explain rare diseases, so the episode was fresh in his memory. And he literally wrote the book on how to apply House the fictional television show to real life medical practice. It’s called Housemedizin: Die Diagnosen von “Dr. House.” 

British medical journal Lancet published a report on this unusual case, but did not mention whether lawyers should start consulting Franklin & Bash whilst trying cases with their best buddy.