Television Saves German Man’s Life

The next time you plan to scold the kids/grandkids for watching too much of that mind-melting TV, stop and think of Dr. Juergen Schaefer.

The German doctor, who works near Frankfurt at the Center for Undiagnosed Diseases, earned a degree of notoriety when he diagnosed a 55-year-old patient’s multiple, seemingly unrelated, illnesses including severe heart failure, enlarged lymph nodes, fever, and blindness and deafness.

Other doctors were baffled, but Dr. Schaefer says within five minutes he hit on the diagnosis: cobalt poisoning via the blood stream resulting from stray pieces of the patient’s old ceramic hip grinding against his new metal one.

So how did Dr. Schaefer solve the medical riddle that had puzzled so many others? Is he a superior intellect? A brilliant mind? A medical prodigy?

Nope. He saw a similar case on the television medical drama House. Not only did the show, which starred Hugh Laurie as a cantankerous doctor, feature an episode with a patient with a nearly identical illness, but Dr. Schaefer also routinely screens the show for his medical students.

Remarkably, after a second hip transplant, the patient recovered, though Dr. Schaefer is hesitant to pat himself on the back too hard over his quick diagnosis.

“We would have diagnosed this even without Dr. House,” admits Schaefer. “You could have also typed his symptoms into Google and gotten the diagnosis.”


ABC News