Most TV medical shows do not depict proper first aid for seizures, a new study has found.
Scientists screened the most popular medical dramas and discovered that doctors and nurses on the shows responded inappropriately to seizures almost half the time.
Study author Andrew Moeller of Dalhousie University, Halifax, in Nova Scotia, Canada, said: "Television dramas are a potentially powerful method of educating the public about first aid and seizures.
"Our results, showing that television shows inaccurately showed seizure management half the time, are a call to action. People with epilepsy should lobby the television industry to adhere to guidelines for first aid management of seizures."
For the study, researchers screened all episodes of the highest-rated American medical dramas: "Grey's Anatomy," "House, M.D.," and "Private Practice" and the last five seasons of "ER" for seizures.
Fifty-nine seizures occurred in the 327 episodes. Fifty-one seizures took place in a hospital. Nearly all first aid was performed by "nurses" or "doctors."
Guidelines on seizure management were used to establish whether the seizure was handled properly.
Researchers found that inappropriate practices, including holding the person down, trying to stop involuntary movements or putting something in the person's mouth, occurred in 25 cases, nearly 46 percent of the time. First aid management was shown appropriately in 17 seizures, or about 29 percent of the time. Appropriateness of first aid could not be determined in 15 incidents of seizures, or 25 percent.
Moeller teamed up with R. Mark Sadler, also with Dalhousie University for the research.
The study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 62nd Annual Meeting in Toronto April 10 to April 17, 2010.