OSH Matters

Growing interest in Occupational Safety and Health

Safety Md




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House is a TV series that is mainly about dealing with medical issues that patients may encounter, thus the episode “Ignorance is Bliss” was chosen. This blog wishes to shed light on the types of hazards, who were affected, who were responsible and finally reduction methods for these hazards.

While viewing Season 6 episode 8 of House MD “Ignorance is Bliss”. Many risks and hazards were detected. These included but were not limited to:
• Chemical
• Psychological
• Biological
• Physical
• Violence

Chemical hazards include skin irritants, carcinogens or respiratory sensitizers that have an adverse effect on a workers’ health. Chemical hazards occurs as a result of direct contact due to the exposure to chemical substances, usually through inhalation, skin contact or ingestion.

The main focus of the episode ‘Ignorance is Bliss,’ was a genus patient(Jimmy) was suspected of having Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura(TTP) a rare blood disorder which forms blood clot and limit the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the body’s organs including the brain. In this case the chemical hazards, was an ingestion combination of cough syrup and alcohol. As mentioned previously the patient(Jimmy) was a genius so as Dr. House called it, he made himself a ‘dumb drug’ fully aware of the short term effects but was unaware of the long term effects because he claimed it made him feel less miserable. The long-term effect of the ‘dumb drug’ eventually led to poor circulation and several blood clots which limited muscle movements.

Biological hazards are basically any organic substances that pose a threat to the health of living organisms. Biological hazards include toxic waste, body fluids, microorganisms, viruses, etc. In the movie countless biological hazards were noted. Risks such as absence of protective clothing while dealing with patients to eating in laboratories put not only the staff, but their patients and the by extent the public in danger. Section 7 (1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA Act) states that ” It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure….that persons not in his employment….are not thereby exposed to risks to their safety or health.”

At 06:54 a female doctor is seen performing tests within a lab not only lacking protective eye and mouth wear, but her hair is loose and allowed to fall freely about her shoulders. This can in turn pollute blood samples, etc from the patient or cause her to be infected by body fluids. In order to prevent this biological risk, the female doctor should have had her hair tied in a bun or covered by some sort of hair net/hair cap to reduce any type of contamination/infection. (Picture below)


Another risk that could be easily avoided is another biological one. At 16:54 a male doctor is in the middle of performing a biopsy on the patient’s liver. However to the back of the room, we see the patient’s wife standing in the sphere of the procedure, without any protective gear on. The patient’s body could easily be infected if his wife was unknowingly sick, or if she touched any of the instruments used to inject his liver beforehand. Easily, I believe that the wife should not have been present while this procedure was being done so as to reduce the risk of any outside/unclean pathogens, etc entering and contaminating the needle, or the open wound in which the needle is being inserted. If she requested and was allowed to be present, she should have been outfitted with the proper protective clothing so as to ensure her safety and the safety of her husband. (Picture Below) As stated in Section 10 (a) ” Employee….to take reasonable care for the safety and health of himself and of other persons who may be affected…”


An additional irregularity with the protocol carried out by one of the doctors was once again the failure to use proper protective attire for his hands while carrying out a medical exam on a patient. This measure can be corrected by always ensuring doctors wear latex gloves so as to avoid exposing their bare hands and coming in contact with bacteria as well as spreading germs to at risk patients (picture below). Section 10 (d) states ” to use correctly the personal protection clothing or devices provided”


Furthermore, Psychological hazards are basically anything/emotion that can negatively affect your mental ability and in turn reduce focus on the job. E.g. Being Stressed. Many stressors were observed in the episode ranging from a strained marital relationship to tension between co workers and superiors, leading to an uncomfortable work situation in which teamwork is strained.

The first of many psychological hazards presented was the demeaning way in which Dr. House speaks to and interacts with not only his staff and co workers, but also his patients. In previous episodes House is depicted as an addict to the pain killer Vicodin, with a disregard for the finer points of medical ethics/protocol and his inability to cooperate with subordinates and administrators alike. House’s superiors are and were aware of these characteristics, however after many failed attempts, therapy seemed useless. At this point, I believe that Dr. House should have been asked to leave the job in order to ensure the psychological wellbeing of other staff members and patients.

Also, due to marital concerns, Dr. Robert Chase experienced high levels of tension that impeded focus on his job and caused him to be detached from his team. This can result in major setbacks and threat to patients since the cast usually works as a team in order to figure out possible cures and treatments. Therapy or counseling sessions should have been offered to Dr. Chase to ensure his stable mindset on the job to avoid accidents.

Physical Hazards are those that can cause harm with or without contact. Factors within the environment such as noise, ergonomics, heat, cold, etc are all examples of physical hazards. Being based on the medical field and filmed in a hospital, the episode is bombarded by countless physical hazards. Ergonomics playing a major role. As we all can imagine, doctors are up and on their feet days at a time in some cases. However this is no excuse to ignore their own health and safety.

When it comes to Physical risks, ergonomics come into play in this episode. At 18:48 two doctors were shown eating sandwiches in a lab filled with equipment and toxic chemicals. To alleviate this problem they should wash their hands clean with soap and eat at a cafe or a designated lunch room that is clean and safe from diseases (picture below). Another example of an ergonomic hazard was the patient’s wife in the exam room, were she questioned the doctors’ duties. The doctors were taking a bit long to discharge the patient because they wanted to run more test to find the best alternative solution, which they eventually did. If the doctor’s had given into her complaint, the patient could have been diagnosed for something else.


Finally, it was seen that violent behaviour is present among the doctors. Violent Hazards include any form of physical attacks and threatening conduct. These hazards can be internal (within the company) or external (from an outside source). In this episode, the hazard was internal and between co workers. At 32:38 Dr. House was physically assaulted by a member of his team. This is an example of inappropriate work behaviour and should have been corrected immediately so as to avoid further disorder. To combat this problem counselling services should be provided to assist these doctors in properly dealing with co worker quandaries. (picture below)


“A variety of stakeholders (society in general; patients; individual nurses; nursing educators, administrators, and researchers; physicians; governments and legislative bodies; professional associations; and accrediting agencies) are responsible for ensuring that patient care is safely delivered and that no harm occurs to patients.”- Nursingworld.org There are many risks and hazards as doctors ranging from patching up small cuts and bruises to dealing with highly contagious and deadly diseases. Therefore, it is mandatory to implement preventative and corrective measures to reduce the level of risks to ensure that safety and health is maintained among doctors, patients and the public.


House MD – Google Search (House MD – Google Search)

Hazard Identification – Google Search (hazard identification – Google Search)


• Preventing Ergonomic Hazards


• Link to House Md “Ignorance is Bliss” Episode


• OSHA Act Online

• Nursing World



2 thoughts on “Safety Md

  1. You have pointed out how many routine actions introduce hazards in this episode of the TV show, House. So many times, we take for granted how our behaviours and our surroundings expose us to hazards. It was good to see you pointing out why certain behaviours were not advisable, and how they should be improved, as well as how management actions within the hospital system should be used to address hazards.
    I cannot understand what exactly the ergonomic hazards would be, based on your article, and I think maybe they are hazards – but a different type. Maybe there is room to take a second look at what ergonomic hazards involve.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. With the ergonomic hazards, we were trying to describe firstly how the doctors ate at their work station instead of a designated eating area. This was due to them being the only two working that night with the patient while the others attended their thanksgiving dinners, etc. the second example described the wife being present and continuously asking for her husband to leave while they diagnosed him. We were trying to explain that this could be a stressful and uncomfortable situation in the workstation which could lead to doctors feeling uncomfortable. I guess we may have went a bit off topic with that one. We will be sure to take a better look at the situation.


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