There are three basic errors that seem to be almost universal. The first is the inappropriate use of head mirrors which is best dealt with by my American colleague Scott in his blog. The second is wearing stethoscopes back to front which I might blog about another time. And the third is displaying chest x-rays the wrong way round, which will bring us to Doctor Who. First let's look at a normal chest x-ray and the structures visible. Here is a nice labelled example.
Dextrocardia where the heart (and possibly other internal organs) are on the opposite side. Here is an x-ray showing Dextrocardia and notice the side marker.
Apparently so many medics complained about this that eventually Scrubs included a joke about it and had a character correct the error.
So last night I was watching Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor in the 1996 TV movie. The film starts with Sylvester McCoy's Seventh Doctor being shot and the struggles of the emergency room physicians to save him before he apparently dies only to later regenerate while in the mortuary fridge. Now as we all know Time Lords from Gallifrey have two hearts and lots of other physiological differences from humans. The Doctor's chest x-ray is put up on a light box and the on-screen medics notice that this shows two hearts and put this down to something they call a "double exposure". This is just medical techno-babble that doesn't really mean anything. But let us examine the x-ray as shown in the film.
hilar shadows which would indicate a whole different set of problems for the Doctor.
I posted a brief comment about this on my Facebook page last night and Brian from British Invaders asked if the scene from Spearhead in Space was any better. This was the story which introduced Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor in 1970. Interestingly this also showed the Doctor recovering from his regeneration in a hospital. Once again he has a chest x-ray which is supposed to show his two hearts, this time the screen doctor assumes that someone in the x-ray department is playing a joke on him and goes off to remonstrate with them leaving a nurse (and us) to look at this x-ray.
All they need is to have a real medical doctor on set to put them right about all this stuff. It would only take a few minutes and I could spend the rest of my time blogging about it!