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Fictional first aid is often applied in ways that would be useless or outright counterproductive in Real Life. There's the reason of safety, as during CPR or the Heimlich maneuver organs in the way are considered to be expendable. There's the practical reason that the audience might prefer their unconsciousness and revival scene without it turning into Fun Things To Do With Vomit. There's the dramatic reason that a character may not actually know first aid, or the work may be a period piece where medical knowledge is less advanced. There's the likely reason that people Did Not Do the Research.
Stock mistakes are:
- Moving injured people without stabilizing their head first.
- Removing impaling foreign objects from wounds. Generally they've smashed all the bits they're going to smash, and are now acting as a plug on the wound - and an infection can be fought off with antibiotics at the hospital. Pull the plug, and you may be dead in minutes. Barbed weapons might tear more flesh and even if they don't, you're unlikely to be able to pull it out at the exact angle it went in.
- Depicting mouth-to-mouth as romantic. Using CPR on that pale, dying individual in your arms has about a 2% chance of revival on its own (and doesn't guarantee that they'll survive what caused that cardiac arrest in the first place). In recent times, official standards have dictated that mouth-to-mouth isn't even recommended if a victim has no pulse. Just stopping to give breaths could be enough to allow the victim to die. Even when breaths were a part of CPR, they were at a very low ratio to compressions--typically anywhere from 15:1 to 30:1 (compressions to breaths).
- In addition, depicting CPR as able to revive somebody alone. CPR is NOT a lifesaving technique, but rather a life-prolonging technique designed to keep someone in some sort of recoverable state while actual help arrives. If they revive on CPR alone, then you're just lucky.
- Depicting professionals doing mouth-to-mouth in modern times. EMTs and hospital staff will always use a bag valve mask, both for hygiene (having a patient throw up in your mouth used to be a rite of passage for paramedics) and because it delivers more oxygen. And typically they will run a tube down their throat first.
- Having a male rescuer get squicked about performing mouth-to-mouth on another male, and playing it for laughs that they're placing their macho insecurities above someone's life.
- Likewise, mouth-to-mouth on a drowning victim only really works if you get most of the water out first.
- Disregarding the security of an accident scene or even personal safety, in violation of the most important rule: Avoid increasing the number of casualties. Rushing onto the freeway isn't any more safe because there's an upended car on it. This one's popular in real life – paramedics get called out at least weekly in some areas for accidents caused by people running onto the freeway to help.
- In Hollywood, if CPR is ineffective it is perfectly fine to start randomly striking the patient in the chest in an attempt to restart their heart. In real life, this is called a Precordial Thump. It is a precisely aimed blow delivered by an expert in an attempt to interrupt a life-threatening rhythm, in the event that a defibrillator is not available, and can only be attempted once. Like a defibrillator, it cannot restore an asystolic heart. (It is also sometimes suggested as first thing to try if the heart of victim was stopped by electricity, but only in this case and only once, as in this case, heart might not be damaged and only need small impulse to start beating again. But its rare case and should precede CPR, not follow it.)
- The Miraculous Bitchslap Of Life. Somebody isn't breathing, or there's no pulse, and their buddy gets all emotional and angry and slaps them a couple of times, perhaps accompanied by a How Dare You Die on Me! speech. After a few seconds they come around.
- Putting someone's head back when they have a nosebleed- you risk making them choke or puke from swallowing the blood.
- Person has hypothermia? Throw them in hot water! In real life, this would cause their core temperature to shoot right up, inviting the colder fluid from the extremities in. The resulting diffusion would make the person even colder, or worse, mess up their heart.
- Beginning care on a conscious adult without consent. The person can sue for assault and battery, and this applies even to choking victims.
Spotting or MSTing such depictions is good for a lark. Unfortunately, Reality Is Unrealistic, so they are likely not harmless and it might be a good idea for a media fiend to take a first aid course. Depending on your country, any mid-sized or larger city should offer an initial 2-4 day - hey. Hey!
Keep in mind, "mistakes" like bending the elbows while doing otherwise-proper CPR are not Worst Aid per se. As alluded to at the top, really doing CPR on someone that does not need it can get them seriously hurt. In fact, the ultimate aversion of CPR Worst Aid is having someone break a patient's sternum doing CPR on them. Bending the elbows is a necessary straight play when simulating it on a live, living actor.
Anime & Manga Edit
- Rock in Black Lagoon - After the final fight of the Tokyo story arc, Revy's leg is impaled all the way through by Ginji's katana. What does Rock do? Why, rip the sword out of her leg of course! It's incredible that Revy didn't bleed to death.
- Subverted by Love Hina: during a holiday on the beach, Shinobu pretends to be unconscious in order to trick Keitaro into performing mouth-to-mouth on her. She is surprised by how methodical and unromantic he is (following all the proper steps); in the end she can't go through with it, and accidentally kicks Keitaro in the crotch instead.
- In Detective Conan, a secondary character fights a murderer and in the process is stabbed in the arm. At the end of the fight, he pulls the knife out of his arm. What an idiot.
- In a Non-Serial Movie, after Conan was buried underneath an avalanche and found, Ran simply hugs him to her chest and cries for him to wake up while everyone else just stands there, instead of getting some immediate aid to properly re-warm the half-frozen Conan.
- Subverted in Fullmetal Alchemist, when Edward is impaled and then tells someone to help him yank the object out. He's warned that doing so will cause more bleeding and he knows full well it will. He just has plans to use alchemy to fix the wound after it's out.
- Subverted by Claymore: The priest who healed Clare put bandages on her clothes. 15 volumes later, he mentioned that it was out of fear/disgust and is deeply ashamed of his behavior.
- When Miaka is unconscious from blood loss in Fushigi Yuugi, Hotohori and Tamahome conclude that she needs a blood transfusion... which they accomplish by stabbing themselves and bleeding on her wounds.
- Although lampshaded shortly after by a savvy healer, who uses magic to put the blood where it belongs, while chiding the boys for their stupidity. As well as a couple of non-canon parody scenes where they either bled to death or stabbed each other.
- In Strike Witches Yoshika attempts to use her Healing Hands on a sailor that likely has broken ribs and shrapnel lodged in his torso. She's told to stop by another sailor who knows she's only making it worse due to her lack of experience. And probably because it looks like said magical healing is basically boosting the regeneration rate over the unset bones, bits of shrapnel and likely destroyed blood vessels. She smartly settles on using her super-strength to ferry medical supplies.
- In Lucky Luke, whenever someone has nearly drowned, the usual method of revival is to pull their arms (or front paws, in case of Rantanplan) back and forth, thus pumping the water out of the body. The same technique has been used in older cartoons, since Silvester Method of artificial respiration and dates back to the 19th Century (or early 20th, at least). There's also the Holger-Neilson method, which was used prior to the innovation of modern CPR in 1960. Both have since been shown to be highly dangerous.
- There's a rather interesting aversion in the 2000 AD comic "Disaster 1990", back in '79. The protagonist gets shot in the belly with a harpoon, and explicitly remarks that he'll have to leave it in despite the pain, since removing it would just cause bleeding. The fact that he pointed it out shows that the writer was aware of this trope.
- In-universe example of the trope in The Smurfs comic book story "Doctor Smurf", as the title character's less-than-perfect idea of first aid often causes some fairly realistic (if still cartoonish) damage to his patients.
Films -- Live Action Edit
- In The Abyss, the female lead has pretty much drowned. Her skin is waxy and white, and she's obviously not breathing. The medical team tries CPR, rescue breathing and a defibrillator, all of which fail to do anything. Then, in a moment of desperation, the main character bitchslap her twice, then shake her for a good 10 seconds, all while desperately screaming a string of curses at her, and she comes right to. It is Truth in Television that it takes a good amount of heating up for a deeply-hypothermic body to resume function, so thinking it's too late when she's not warm enough yet to revive is at least plausible, though there are plenty of other problems with her resuscitation besides that. In the Novelization, it's suggested the aliens had a hand in many things, including this.
- In the live-action film version of Inspector Gadget, an early trailer shows him going into arrest during the transformation surgery. How does the doctor revive him? The MBL, of course! The scene didn't make the final film; although obviously meant to be Played for Laughs, Disney probably considered it a bit too much for the intended audience.
- In Red Planet, the female lead resuscitates male lead who has suffocated for lack of oxygen. Her method consist entirely of acting like a distressed monkey and hitting his ribcage randomly. Somehow severe beating brings him back to life without any form of assisted breathing.
- Cloverfield, though that could easily overlap with Could Have Been Messy, and their choices in that situation were all bad: lift the victim off the impaling rebar and risk her bleeding out, or leave her in the building when they know that no rescue is coming, but the monster is.
- In Pod People, one character falls off a cliff, and the other characters respond by picking her up by the legs and shoulders to go find help. When it appeared on MST3K, this was accompanied by crunching noises and riffs like, "Quick! Move her spine around a lot!" Then they pour half a bottle of whiskey down her throat.
- A similar falling scenario occurs in their presentation of Gamera, complete with the "Move his spine around a lot" riff.
- Subverted in Kung Fu Hustle. Sing had a string of unlikely accidents resulting in being impaled by multiple knives. Bone came to the rescue pulling one out, at which point Sing told Bone that it makes the situation worse. Eager to take care of his friend as well as he possibly could, Bone stabbed the knife back to the original wound again with all his might.
- While it's technically something of an inversion, Million Dollar Baby manages to medically botch an assisted suicide. After a brutal boxing match leaves the protagonist paralyzed and lands her in a care home where things go from bad to worse, she asks her mentor to help her end her life. He does so by removing her ventilator and giving her a lethal dose of adrenaline. In Real Life, not only would this be completely unnecessary (medical professionals must comply with a conscious and competent patient's request to be taken off life support), but death by adrenaline overdose is a fairly awful way to go.
- In the Sherlock Holmes parody The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It featuring John Cleese, Watson pulls out a dagger from a still-living human, is told that it will cause bleeding, then puts back the dagger... killing the poor guy.
Sherlock: (examining the body) The knife was removed to alleviate the victim's pain. The knife was then re-inserted in an attempt to stem the bleeding. This second insertion was the cause of death.
Watson: God lord, Holmes, how on Earth could you tell that?
Sherlock: I was watching you from the doorway, and frankly I couldn't believe my eyes.
- The Ruins... oh, good lord, The Ruins: first, they accidentally drop a guy a couple of stories, discover that he can't move or even feel his legs, and -- even though they speculate that he may have a broken back and argue that it is a bad idea -- proceed to pick him up between them and move him (horrific crunch noises included). Then they decide to amputate his infected legs by breaking his bones with a rock and cauterizing the stumps with a frying pan. All. On. Screen.
- All of this on the advice of a pre-med student. Two of them were pre-med students, actually.
- The characters in question (except the Almost-Dead Guy) were all Too Dumb to Live anyway, so all this idiocy may be intentional.
- On the other hand, it's not like they were in a position to wait for real help to arrive anyway - though that raises the question of whether desperate measures are actually better than nothing at all.
- In The Edge, one character fell into a trap and was impaled on a wooden spike. He ends up dying just before the survivors were rescued after the spike was pulled out of his body. It doesn't right out state it, but it's clear he bled out. But as the survivor has a good reason not to have him alive, this could be intentional.
- In Dead Snow, one of the main characters is bitten on the arm by a zombie. He quickly arrives at the logical conclusion that this will turn him into a zombie as well (because that's what he has seen in films), and saws his own arm off with a chainsaw, applying a tourniquet afterward to keep from bleeding to death. As he turns and grins triumphantly, another zombie bites him... in the crotch.
- A similar joke got used in the comic book Hitman, when a panicked character bitten by a zombie animal got a friend to saw off his hand. The punchline? The zombie-germ didn't affect living animals. He would have been fine.
- In Assault on Precinct 13 the opening sequence with the drug bust has a cop performing CPR on his partner. He does it right but it doesn't help. Why? Because it's a gunshot wound.
- Subverted in Jurassic Park. Game warden Muldoon and paleobotanist Ellie Sattler find Ian Malcolm delirious, moaning, and with a broken leg, having barely survived a T. rex attack. They want to take him back with them for treatment, but consider the possibility that he has internal injuries they can't see.
Ellie: Do we chance moving him?
(T. rex roars somewhere in the vicinity)
Malcolm: (sits up) Please, chance it.
- In the original literature, Malcolm is nowhere near as lucid, and Muldoon and Gennaro make the decision of moving him themselves (thankfully, there's no immediate threat to put the pressure on them). However, his injuries are severe enough, and he goes without proper treatment so long, that he dies from them near the end of the book. At least, until the sequel.
- In Starship Troopers (the film anyway), Rico's girlfriend / fling Dizzy is impaled through the intestines by one of the bugs. He gets her to safety with the bugs leg still attached and then immediately yanks it out, causing her to bleed to death about 30 seconds later. She may well have survived if he'd just kept it in there long enough to make it back to a medical station.
- In Mission Impossible 3, Michelle Monaghan beats the crap out of her patient - that is, performs multiple precordial chest thumps to restore an asystolic heart. While she should now have a corpse with a broken sternum, this instead brought him back to life.
- At the very least they averted Magical Defibrillator earlier in the film when they planned to use the defibrillator to temporarily flatline the patient in order to short out her cranial bomb.
- In Teminator 2: Judgment Day, Sarah takes a bullet to the leg in the final car chase, and fashions a makeshift tourniquet from her shirt.
- Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: Generally, mouth-to-mouth is not going to work if a drowning victim's lungs are still full of water. And when she came to, Amy coughed up what seemed like a gallon of water.
- And then in Die Another Day, Jinx is unconscious underwater an awfully long time for her to come to that quickly when James Bond rescues her and just gives her mouth-to-mouth.
- Deconstructed in True Grit, in the original, the protagonists applies the correct treatment for a snake bite and the victim recovers without much damage, in the remake he uses the "suck out the poison method." Said victim loses an arm in the remake.
- It helps that in the remake they don't really have any method to treat it so Cogburn tries to get her to a doctor as soon as possible, but it takes some time...
- Drag Me to Hell has one of the worst displays of CPR on film ever, where the rescuer applies his chest compressions to the victim's shoulder.
- In Final Destination 5, a character is getting an acupuncture treatment and is left alone to take a short nap. A fire then breaks out in the room, and he falls off the bed onto the floor, getting impaled by the needles. Still alive, he gets up and immediately pulls out one of the needles, which looks like it may very well have pierced his heart.
- In Kick-Ass, after Dave is hit by a car, the next scene shows the paramedics putting a C-collar on him to immobilise his spine... in the back of the ambulance. Meaning that they have already moved him quite a bit. Which, really, makes the whole thing kind of pointless.
- The Last Book in the Universe is one of many works in which a character undergoing a seizure gets a stick stuck in his mouth to prevent him from biting his tongue. In this case, it doesn't quite work as intended--the stick simply breaks in half. (In real life, this is a fortunate outcome, since he could have broken his jaw instead.)
- Anne of Green Gables: Administering ipecac (which is supposed to be for inducing vomiting) to a croup patient. Big no-no now, but was the standard treatment protocol in the early 20th century.
- Twilight, hooo boy. After Bella is attacked by James, she's immediately dosed up on morphine, one of the most potent and dangerous painkillers, because apparently Carlisle is able to carry the stuff around with him. As Edward goes to carry her out of the ballet studio, he tells her that it's fine for her to go to sleep, even though she lost a lot of blood and had her head violently smashed around to the point where she had cracks in her skull. Furthermore, since Edward has boasted about how he has two medical degrees, he ought to, you know, know about the dangers of comas. Then there's the bit at the hospital, where Bella's heart literally stops when she and Edward kiss and the nurses don't notice at all. Even though she just had transfusions and was smashed to bits and was hooked up to a heart monitor. Also, apparently Edward is the one who can tell the nurses when Bella needs to be medicated. Right.
- Parodied in Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need, which advises, in case of snakebite, to put a tourniquet on the snake.
- Bernard Cornwell's Starbuck Chronicles (also known by the alternative title Took a Level In Badass: The Book Series) set in the American Civil War features a doctor reviving a man by pouring caustic iodine on his balls.
Doctor: Works every time. I call it the Lazarus Effect.
- Truth in Television, unfortunately - Civil War doctors really did use this to try and bring people out of unconsciousness and even comas. In some cases it was felt that a declining heartbeat could be increased by doing this too.
- Averted in Matthew Arnold's epic poem Sohrab and Rustum. When Sohrab is fatally wounded by his father Rustum, he deliberately leaves the impaling spear where it is while he and Rustum have a last heart-to-heart, and only after the conversation is over does Sohrab pull out the spear in order to die as quickly and painlessly as possible.
- Disccused in the Mongolian novel Oyuun, where the title character's friend is impaled with a knife that has been coated in a poison that will, if it gets through her bloodstream in sufficient doses, stop her breathing. They don't know if the half-coated knife has sufficient dosage to pose a threat or not or if it's such a danger the knife should be pulled, but Oyuun does know better than to remove something impaling someone. Ultimately, she seems to pass out from the poison's side effects when they leave the knife in, but she pulls it out during the climax and saves her friend's lives by stabbing the villain in the back repeatedly. It's the villain's own knife, to boot.
- In Septimus Heap Septimus rescues Merrin, who tried to kill him a few minutes before, by jumping in ice-cold water. Sending his dragon away beforehand. FULLY CLOTHED, no less. It almost gets him killed.
- In the third book of the Serpentwar Saga, Rupert makes a poultice for Luis' wound out of randomly selected pieces of vegetation and nearly poisons him.
- In Halo by Alexandra Adornetto, Bethany pulls a badly injured girl from a car wreck despite the fact that the car was neither on fire nor about to explode. She doesn't do it very well, either. The girl is near-death and bleeding from a head wound, yet Bethany throws the girl's arm over her shoulder and hauls her out of the vehicle.
Live Action TV Edit
- Stargate Atlantis:
- In the episode "Search and Rescue", Sheppard is impaled in the side by a piece of metal. Ronon yanks it out and bandages the wound. This is wrong in so many ways.
- Ronon has also pulled an arrow out of his own leg once and popped his dislocated shoulder back into place. (It is possible to fix a dislocated shoulder, but it is incredibly, brutally painful -- especially when it's your own.) In another episode, he also has a huge shard of something in his shoulder. The doctor, clearly not familiar with his patient, eventually gives up arguing with Ronon about taking it out and tells him to do it himself. Cue the doctor's frantic protests when Ronon tries to do just that.
- In an earlier episode, McKay gets slashed in the arm when the Genii decide to torture him a bit, and shows up the next day with a bandage... around his sleeve.
- In the episode "Brain Storm," a victim of hypothermia is rescued and wrapped in a blanket, but allowed to walk around in the same cold, damp clothes she had previously been wearing. This is presumptively over half an hour after she was rescued. At the very least, people should have been concerned about her catching pneumonia.
- In one later episode of Stargate SG-1, someone who really should be more mature freaks out when he might have to give mouth-to-mouth to General Hammond, and is profoundly relieved when he wakes up on his own.
- Captain Archer bandages Shran's leg when he gets a stalagmite stuck through it in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "The Aenar", though Shran lifted his leg off the stalagmite himself.
- How many times have we seen people in films and TV treating epileptic seizures by putting things in the victims' mouths "to prevent them biting their tongues"? Commenting on this on a British radio programme, one epileptic remarked that "a bitten tongue is a lot better than a broken jaw". This has some basis in reality, since rolled leather was sometimes used to keep people being flogged from biting their tongues, and in real-life seizure cases it works perfectly fine without damaging the jaws, but most people on TV just grab anything on hand.
- Also, the frequency with which they grab some sort of drug to stop the seizure -- as a general rule, all you can do is make the person comfortable and wait it out.
- The British music movie 24 Hour Party People shows the ultimate in not helping an epileptic fit -- Backstage as Joy Division's Ian Curtis has a fit, bassist Hooky, instead of offering any help, bends down and retrieves his cigarettes from Ian's pocket; "he's still got me fags". Acording to an interview with Q magazine this really did did happen, but it was drummer Steve Morris and not Hooky looking for cigarettes.
- Played for Laughs in My Name Is Earl: When Earl gets shivved in prison, they take it out and put on a Band-Aid. "Apparently, prison health care sucks."
- Supernatural had Sam scooping Dean up and cradling him after he'd been hit with enormous force by a car (he got better), with blithe disregard for his spinal column.
- Supernatural varies widely on this one: one the one hand, the ECG is actually showing a shockable rhythm when a defibrillator is used (unlike the vast majority of TV shows, who are lucky enough to have Magical Defibrillators); on the other hand, they attempt CPR on a person who has been shot in the heart. You've got to wonder what exactly they were expecting to achieve there.
- In an episode of Psych, Shawn's captor attempts to treat his bullet wound by duct taping a chamois to the outside of his shirt. Even worse is the fact that he never even bothers to cover the gaping hole that is the exit wound. Also, his captor refers to it as "a flesh wound".
- In an episode of Due South, a man is hit by a car and Fraser carries him to the hospital, hoisted over his shoulders. Apparently no one thought to call an ambulance.
- Parodied in Corner Gas: Brent and Hank move Wanda (specifically, toss her up and down) because they don't believe her back is really hurt... and this makes her get better.
- Lampshaded in Scrubs with the Todd's Miracle Five. To quote Dr. Cox: "Great moment there, dumbass. It starts out with a profound misunderstanding of how the human body works and winds up with you shattering some old man's hand."
- Subverted in Lost; after taking a gunshot to the shoulder in the first season finale, Sawyer proceeds to dig the bullet out of the wound with his fingers, making the wound that much worse and contributing to an infection which leaves him bad shape for the first part of season two.
- Played straight when Michael was injured by a boar in season 1, Kate put a bandage right over his pant leg.
- Somewhat averted in the TV movie The Lost Battalion. A soldier with a giant piece of shrapnel in his shoulder is asked if he wants it removed, to which he shrugs and decides to leave it in. In this case leaving it in place is the proper course of action. However, it is unclear whether he really understood the consequences of removing it, or whether he just wanted to be a manly man.
- Typically subverted in ER. There's even an incident in Season 6 where Dr. Kovac tells a cop in a mass shooting scene to stop giving CPR to a victim who suffered a catastrophic headshot.
- Later played straight in-story when paramedics bring two guys with billiard balls stuck in their mouths, one of the doctors asks how it happened. "Well, Tweedledee here stuck the ball in his mouth on a dare. When we showed up and asked how it happened, Tweedledum here decided to show us."
- Law and Order SVU episode Bombshell has the wonderful scene where "a bystander yanked the knife out" and his girlfriend "tried sticking it back in" when it started spurting blood all over.
- Martha saves The Doctor's life in her introductory episode . . . with CPR. When the problem was blood loss. And she's supposed to be a medical student.
- Much, MUCH worse was the entire CPR scene in The Curse of The Black Spot where the Narm-driven reason for choosing Amy as CPR operator was suspect, her execution was cringe-worthy, she gave up after less than 2 minutes (which proved the aforementioned suspicions about her to be valid) and there was a potential second operator (the Doctor) just standing around doing nothing. This troper and every other medically trained professional they've discussed it with (doctors, nurses, EM Ts, you name it) absolutely deplores this case of Worst Aid.
- Averted in Rescue 911 - many episodes show people who realize someone has a neck injury and say, "Uh oh - better not move them".
- This is how Tobias Funke lost his medical license (a psychotherapy license!), by giving CPR to a man that needed none and breaking several ribs. Then he demonstrated his life-saving intent in court and broke more ribs.
- This trope was poked fun at in the first episode of the first season of Blackadder. Edmund cuts off the king's head, then tries to revive him by placing it back on and pumping the kings arms up and down. Needless to say, it didn't work.
- In an episode of Sanctuary, while cut off from professional help, Will Zimmerman doses himself with morphine several times despite having sustained a head injury bad enough to temporarily blind him.
Pro Wrestling Edit
- At a WCW Clash of the Champions show in 1989 (Sept. 12 to be exact), Terry Funk "suffocated" Ric Flair with a plastic bag. Brian Pillman ran in and gave him mouth-to-mouth, using a towel as a mouth barrier. A surprising subversion, nearly a decade before Steve Urkel used a barrier when giving Carl Winslow CPR.
- One episode of RAW that featured JBL being slammed through the roof of his go-to-the-ring limo. (This was before he went to just announcing.) The medics dragged his "unconscious" body out of the limo by one foot and then got out the neck collar and backboard.
- An episode of Nitro had one of the wrestlers injured. The paramedics said it looked like a neck injury. Then they moved him on the stretcher... by the neck.
Tabletop Games Edit
- One Unknown Armies sample campaign features the player characters coming up to a three-car pileup of twisted metal, and the sheriff on the scene informing the players that they must try to get the crash victims out of the vehicles before the sparking electrical systems and spilled gasoline mix. Characters with any medical skill or a high mind stat are told that doing so is incredibly dangerous when a cell phone exists (not that the Myth Busters would agree), the sheriff makes the characters do so anyway. On the other hand, the "sheriff" is the Comte De Saint-Germain and doesn't care whether the crash victims live or die, only that they don't ever have crashed in the first place, and has more than enough power to blow the cars to kingdom come. Players who talk about stabilizing the heads and necks of the car crash victims are encouraged to have better luck or experience rewards, too.
- In Dungeons & Dragons, it's possible to accidentally injure or even kill your patient if you try to heal someone and screw up the skill check badly enough.
- In Feng Shui, the weird arcanotech 'slap patches' from the 2056 juncture have a very good chance of harming an injured character further, rather than healing them. Some players have been known to use them as weapons.
- In Paranoia, the role of docbots is basically to show up after a firefight and kill off the survivors. Well, The Computer says otherwise, but when their standard peripherals include surgical chainsaws...
Video Games Edit
- In Splinter Cell Chaos Theory, the antagonist commits Seppuku, and you need him alive. Solution? Oh just rip that knife right out of him. Just for good measure, shoot the windows out of the underwater base so you can carry him while swimming. And of course, in this life-or-death situation where seconds count, Sam takes the time to respectfully set the knife down.
- Far Cry 2 requires the player to perform quick "medical care" in the field when injured if his or her health drops to one bar. This generally involves resetting broken bones with your bare hands (which promptly begin working immediately), pulling pieces of shrapnel and stray branches from your gut (which doesn't cause the wound to start spurting blood all over the place), and removing bullets with pliers, all without even bandaging the wound up and immediately getting back into the fight. If your health is at least two bars, healing involves simply injecting yourself with a shot of morphine. If a buddy is critically injured, you can heal them simply by injecting them as well. Otherwise, the only options are comforting them in their passing or blowing their brains out to hasten it.
- In Left 4 Dead, similar to the RE 2 example below, you heal yourself or others by wrapping bandages on your/their clothing, and always in the same spots, too. Or, if you're in a hurry, by swallowing an entire bottle of painkillers, enough to kill an average person. Lampshaded in the sequel, as the survivors say they don't know exactly what they're doing. It still works, somehow.
- The sequel also has adrenaline shots which the survivors will jam into their thighs pretty hard and not even bothering to check where on the leg they are injecting the stuff and you can use it several times without any drawbacks. Adrenaline is mainly used for people with an allergic reaction or suffering from a heart attack to help stabilize the body.
- Due to a programming oversight with the survivor AI, they will often try and heal players at the most inconvenient times, such as when they're trying to move somewhere safe, or in rare cases in the middle of combat. The only way to get them to stop is to stop what you're doing and pull out your own first aid kit or pills. On the higher difficulties, this distraction can be lethal.
- In Resident Evil 2, when Leon is injured, Ada dresses the wound... by wrapping the bandages outside his clothes. In this case it's Rule of Perception, since if she takes the uniform off, applies the bandage, and then puts the uniform back on, all off screen, the bandage won't be visible, leaving the audience to wonder if she did anything.
- Optional in Oregon Trail. You can of course administer proper medical treatments, but sometimes you're in a different mood, and choose to rub ice on frostbite, rub salt on infected wounds (resulting in gangrene), or advise the guy who was bitten by a rattlesnake to get plenty of exercise. They die soon afterward.
- You can also administer treatments that are a bit different, not so much as evil as ineffective. For example, giving olive oil to someone with a cold (which likely won't do much), or giving them vinegar (not exactly what they need; but it might kill bacteria in the throat) or putting alcohol on a sprain (probably not going to relieve pain).
- In World of Warcraft bandages heal everything, be it slashes, blunt trauma or damage done by any sort of magic. However, if you try to heal yourself you have to wait until damage over time effects, such as, for example, bleeding, stop on their own because they interrupt the process.
- Bandages can even heal poison or mental damage done by shadow magic. Think about that for a minute.
- Team Fortress -- the original one that was a Quake mod -- has the medic class heal people by hitting them with his axe.
- The sequel, Team Fortress 2, gets in on the Comedic Sociopathy angle by giving players access to a new weapon, the Crusader's Crossbow. The Medic can fire at enemies to harm them, or he can fire it at his allies to increase their health.
- Actually, the Doktor period. His method of preforming open-heart surgery is to have the patient hold their chest cavity open while he pushes the organ (which he had previously extracted) up through the bottom of their ribcage before pointing his "side-effect of healing" weapon at them. Also: "Don't worry, ribs grow back! [whispers] No they don't." All of this is done without gloves. Gloves he later puts on to kill people with.
- To give an idea how bad he is: This is his hospital procedures. I am beyond afraid what his first aid is like.
- He apparently stole someone's entire skeleton for a non-descript reason and considers the Hippocratic Oath to be a suggestion at best.
- Actually, the Doktor period. His method of preforming open-heart surgery is to have the patient hold their chest cavity open while he pushes the organ (which he had previously extracted) up through the bottom of their ribcage before pointing his "side-effect of healing" weapon at them. Also: "Don't worry, ribs grow back! [whispers] No they don't." All of this is done without gloves. Gloves he later puts on to kill people with.
- An old PC/Mac Roman-fantasy RPG by the name of Nethergate was designed that if you attempted to administer first aid with too low of a skill in such, you had a chance to actually deal damage instead, usually enough to kill the person in question if they were in a scenario that was deserving of first aid in the first place.
- In Rainbow Six: Vegas and Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 you heal your injured teammates by jamming a needle into them. Anywhere on their body. Your ally could have been filled with lead and all that's required to get them back in the fight is a needle stab to the face, groin, or foot coupled with a quick, motivational "You're good to go." To top it off, the needle is removed in a manner that's very likely to snap the end off.
- Modern Warfare makes the curious mistake of having the computer-generated NPCs do CPR wrong. The usual justification for the sort of "bent elbows" CPR (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZguxm-Sqtc#t=7m20s ) common in media mentioned in the opening of this article doesn't really apply. In this case it seems to be a case of art imitating art, even after the reason has disappeared. Another theory is that in the age of motion capture work being used to give the most natural realistic looking movements in games, the team used to play the NPCs couldn't do straight arms without hurting the actor playing the injured person, so it's been grandfathered in even though actual actors are no longer used.
- Averted in the latest version of America's Army. You are given an "Individual First Aid Kit" but are made to sit through a lesson which teaches you what treatment to use for each symptom before you're allowed to use it. All are correct battlefield first aid techniques taught by the Army to average soldiers, although the lesson is condensed. However, during a firefight, when a team member goes down, it's often fairly hard to pay attention too long to the symptoms with bullets whizzing by -- though one could say that that's the point. Gameplay wise, this just amounts to running up to an injured ally and holding the 'Use' button to patch them up, and ironically, there have been reports of people using what they learned in America's Army to save lives in the real world.
- Robinson's Requiem.
- Max Payne recovers health through the use of painkiller pills. Apparently whatever the hell is in those pills can heal bullet wounds.
- The sequel somewhat averts this, as he looks more and more roughed up, bandaged and wounded through the course of the game. The Painkillers could mainly be a way to 'continue' fighting, despite the wounds. A little far-fetched, but a Hand Wave is supposed to be.
- Getaway is a particularly fine example. You've been shot multiple times? No problem! Just lean on this wall for a bit. It even launders clothes.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, you heal with poultices. As in, the stuff you rub on the wound (though it's likely just being used as an alternate word for "potion"). The animation accompanying use of a poultice is drinking it.
- In Return to Mysterious Island 2: Mina's Fate, Mina's leg wound must be treated with raw herbs and a puddle-dipped rag, after sealing it using decapitated ant heads as impromptu sutures, which despite how bizarre it sounds, is actually a real method. Not only that, but all of these items are procured by a wild monkey, all species of which are likely carriers for pathogens transmissible to humans.
- In the multiplayer for Return to Castle Wolfenstein, the Medic's only answer for reviving downed teammates who have been shot, stabbed, burned, or even blown up is to stab them with a syringe full of mystery chemicals. Plus, in the case of heavily wounded teammates, some medics won't even bother going through the effort of healing them and will kill the wounded teammate so he can revive him to full health instead.
- Likewise, Battlefield 2 does the exact same thing except with defibrillators instead of syringes.
- Lego Island has Enter and Return, who are probably any emergency victim's worst nightmare. Whenever there's an emergency, there first move is to load the ambulance with a megaphone, a shark, a tree, as well as an umbrella just in case it gets hot outside or some envelopes if they have to mail a letter. They then go to multiple emergencies at once, and stuff every injured person into the ambulance.
- It was also implied that on at least one occasion, Enter and Return dropped a patient and left him.
- A minor instance of this in Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater; the treatment for being bitten by a leech is to burn it off with a cigar. If you do this to a leech in real life, it will vomit into the wound and increase the risk of infection.
- It's an acceptable break from reality to cut down on the number of in-game medical supplies you needed to gather and to reduce the complexity of the medical treatment mechanic so as not to make it annoying. And it's not to only one your combat knife can be used to dig out crossbow bolts, bullets and bees while rubbing ointment is sufficient to treatment shrapnel wounds.
- Most likely due to the limitations of the engine, Fallout 1 and 2 implement the First Aid and Doctor skills by causing the player character to wave his arms in front of the patient. Also, a first aid kit or doctor's bag are helpful, but not necessary (Fallout Tactics at least requires the appropriate medical kit to use the associated skills).
- Two sidequests in Fallout: New Vegas require you to treat some patients in critical but stable condition. If your Medicine skill is sufficient you'll perform proper treatments (with congratulations from the attending doctor, who presumably is taking notes), but if it's insufficient you'll end up killing the patients in rather horrific ways, such as attempting a tracheatomy on a patient with a simple allergic reaction (he bleeds to death).
- Dwarf Fortress, Dwarf Fortress, Dwarf Fortress. There's Worst Aid and then there's Too Dumb to Live. Occasionally dwarven diagnosticians and surgeons will do some astoundingly stupid things in the course of 'medicine,' such as not sewing a dwarf's intestines back inside them during surgery or leaving arrows (or an entire ballista bolt) in wounded dwarves while they recover. Summed up beautifully by this post on the community forums, wherein an unskilled dwarf misdiagnoses a minor cut on the arm. Hilarity Ensues.
- In Radiant Historia, one of the best healing items available is the Tourniquet (which "stings like crazy when applied").
- In the old versions of Madden NFL, if a player was down on the field an ambulance would come out to get them, completely flattening any other player in its path.
Web Animation Edit
- Played with in Red vs. Blue after Sarge gets shot in the head. Due to the limits of the physics engine, the creators took the limited actions the characters could to and had them Played for Laughs.
Sarge: What-what happened here?
Simmons: Sir! You got shot in the head, so we gave you CPR and saved you, sir!
Sarge: I've always believed in you, Simmons.
Simmons: Uh...actually, it's Grif you should thank, sir. He did all the work.
Simmons: Yes, sir.
Sarge: Grif -- why in hell would you give somebody CPR for a bullet wound in the head? That doesn't make a lick of sense!
Grif: (sigh) You're welcome, sir.
Sarge: I mean, it's also damn inconsistent! What would you do if they stabbed me in the toe? Rub my neck with aloe vera?
- It doesn't help very much when they get an actual medic -- a medic who thinks CPR is a perfectly acceptable treatment for a bullet wound to the head, rubs someone's neck with aloe vera when his pinkie toe falls off, and has no clue what his medical scanning device actual means. As Doc himself said: Doctors make you better, medics make you more comfortable while you die.
Web Original Edit
- The title character of Doctor Moley Can Help, a web series by the creators of Chad Vader, is a doctor who had a disturbing obsession with pills. It regularly gets to the point where he has a pill of some sort for nearly every problem including pill overdose.
- It Gets Worse: Dr. Moley openly frowns upon more commonplace medical proceedures. In fact when explaining his solution to pill overdoes, he made a point of stating that you need to shove a wet towel under your door to keep the ambulance from getting to you before you take another pill, because you know, it's not like you'll be comatose or anything.
- Parodied on The Venture Brothers. When Dr. Venture gets stung in the neck by a scorpion, Hank puts a tourniquet on his neck to keep the venom from reaching his brain. Dr. Venture wakes up in the middle of the procedure and chastises his son for nearly strangling him to death.
- All Artificial Respiration in cartoons takes the form of the Schafer method, lying the victim on his/her belly and shoving upwards and forwards from below the diaphragm. In cartoons this always squirts water comically from the mouth. Not a method used much nowadays.
- Played totally for laughs in The Emperors New Groove when Pacha very reluctantly attempts the "kiss of life" on near-drowning victim Kuzco, only to be repelled when Kuzco-the-llama's tongue pops out of his mouth in a manner resembling a moment from Ren and Stimpy. Mercifully, Kuzco recovers on his own.
- In Futurama, Dr. Zoidberg is an extreme example, whose ability to distort his patients' bodies and have them somehow survive would be impressive if it were not The Future! One episode revealed that being "zoidberg" is a term for an incompetent doctor. Said episode involved a Chain of Deals with the Planet Express crew - except that the deals are surgery. By the end of treating Fry's stabbed hand Fry is turning into a Smurf, Leela has several extra vertebrae, Hermes has had his missing vertebrae replaced with someone else's body from the waist down, Scruffy is a head on a foot, Amy is hypnotized, and Bender has somehow become incontinent. Fortunately an Actual Doctor is able to fix most of it.
- South Park has Hell's Pass Hospital, surely the worst hospital in any work of fiction ever, whether the desired effect is comedic OR dramatic. If Kenny is taken there, he will die, but it's a miracle that any of the kids taken there survive due to regular incompetance ranging from the head doctor just not having the faintest idea what's wrong, looking ridiculous by confirming that an exploded body is indeed dead, and diagnosing acts of physical bullying as serious medical emergancies, all the way down to replacing Kenny's heart with a baked potato and sending Butters to a vet because he was made up as a dog.
- On Adventure Time, when a bear is choking on nuts, Finn slaps a book on its back to save it. In reality, you should never do this. It will just make things worse.
Real Life Edit
- This is sadly Truth in Television, and happens many times, from negligent medical personnel to well meaning but ultimately clueless samaritans.
- Some British tropers who were in secondary school in the second half of the 1990s might recall an "instructional" First Aid video about putting someone in the Recovery Position when unconscious. The example used? A cyclist involved in a hit-and-run, a scenario with a very high probability of spinal injury. This might be a result of Science Marches On, as recovery prospects for spinal injuries are a lot better than they were ten years ago, but it's still cringe-worthy in hindsight.
- Oh, and this same first-aid course apparently consisted of CPR, the Heimlich Manoeuvre and the Recovery Position and that was it. Nothing on recognising the symptoms of a stroke or heart attack -the subjects of major public-awareness campaigns so that people seek medical assistance before their condition becomes life-threatening- or dealing with burns, bleeding or a broken bone.
- This is how Steve Irwin died. A stingray stabbed him in the heart, he yanked it out. If he hadn't, he might have lived.
- In one famous case, lifeguards were resuscitating a victim, but instead of breathing, they were saying, "breath, breath" as they did in practice.
- Lot of people give CPR the same way many actors do - with their arms bent and using almost no pressure and breathing in mouth without covering the nose. Others start right, but stop when ribs break, thinking they did it wrong. One of first things said in first-aid courses is "If you hear loud cracks, don't stop. Those were ribs. They won't need them if they die." The 2010 standards revision suggests that compressions are more valuable than ventilations, so anyone without training is requested to do compression only CPR.
- In Italian driving schools the teacher explain how to rescue victims of car crashes by keeping away anyone who isn't trained in first aid exactly to prevent well-meaning but ignorant helpers from accidentally kill the patient.
- ↑ although this is mainly in the US, and different countries have different recommendations regarding rescue breathing
- ↑ Extracting a billiard ball from the jaw requires medically breaking the jaw, so they were both complete idiots, but the second guy was worse, even though he was trying to help...somehow.
- ↑ The Masai people in Africa used this for doctors and patients in India. You make the living ant bite the two sides of the wound together and rip its body off, leaving the pincers still in you, and it tends to actually work