The Fox drama “House” has saved a German man’s life. Real-life doctors turned to the series after a man began experiencing symptoms similar to those seen in an episode of the show.
The man in question suffered a worsening condition following a double hip replacement. At least one member of the man’s medical team then recalled a similar problem in an episode from the seventh season of House.
On the show, a patient falls ill from cobalt poisoning following a hip replacement. In real life, the German doctors performed tests which confirmed that the metal prosthesis was causing the problem. They then replaced it with a ceramic prosthesis, and the patient’s troubling symptoms — including fever, acid reflux, and irregular heart activity — mostly went away.
“Shortly after the hip replacement, the patient’s plasma (blood) cobalt and chromium concentrations decreased and the patient stabilized and recovered slightly,” the doctors said in their report, which was recently published in The Lancet.
“It was helpful for me that I was aware about the cobalt problems thanks to Dr House,” noted medical team leader Jurgen Schafer. “All this demonstrates nicely that well-performed entertainment is not only able to entertain and educate, but also to save lives.”
Schafer admits he’s a big fan of the Fox drama and encourages his students to watch the show. That’s led some of his colleagues to refer to him as the “German Dr House”.
Regardless, Schafer says he hopes the case will raise awareness about “the potential side effects of metal implants in humans.”