Thursday, 18 Jul 2019

Medical Blunders in Movies: The Case of Staphylococcus By Dr Maryam Raji

Nigeria’s movie industry, famously known as Nollywood, will not cease to surprise us with their poorly scripted stories and medical trash, which are prevalent in both English and Yorùbá movies. Below is a classical example of a movie (name withheld).

A conversation between a doctor and his patient

Doctor: I called you here because of the result of the test carried out on you and your husband. It stated clearly that you guys are now free of Staphylococcus.

Blunder 1: “You and your husband are now free of Staphylococcus” is a blunder and blasphemy to the medical profession because of the impression, according to the movie script, that Staphylococcus is sexually transmitted.

The script writer would have been influenced by Nigerian drug hawkers (quacks), who sing the Staphylococcus  song almost everywhere, pre-recorded on moving cars, or when giving unauthorized lectures inside “molue” (slang for long buses commonly seen in Lagos).

Staphylococcus is not a sexually transmitted disease. Staphylococcus aureus, the most popular staphylococcus species in its family, is actually a skin commensal, which means that they live with us as humans.

Staphylococcus generally refers to a group of more than 30 different types of bacteria. As medical professionals, when we test people for infections, we specify the culprit involved, e. g. Staphylococcus aureus.

They are found on most areas of the skin and mucous regions but for a few exceptions. They help protect us from colonization by other bacterias that are potentially harmful.

Patient: Doctor, what do you mean we are free from Staphylococcus?

Doctor: The virus is no longer in your system. You’re both negative.

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Patient: Screamed and shouted, “Doctor!”, with excitement.

Blunder 2: The statements; “The virus is no longer in your system. You are both negative” are absolute misnomers and utterly misleading.  To crown the ignorance of the purported doctor in the movie, he says this to reassure the patient. I make bold to say that there are absolutely no strips to test negative or positive for Staphylococcus. If “our guy” were simply to have mentioned HIV, which is a chronic illness and for which humans can test negative or positive, this movie would not have been such a blunder.

Blunder 3: Staphylococcus is a bacterium and not a virus. The two are different groups of microorganisms

Watch: https://youtu.be/92ufvA5qwfg

In all, this is to warn Nigerian movie producers to research properly into medical conditions and ask medical professionals about how the medical world works, instead of displaying crass ignorance in public and in essence soiling the global image of Nigerian medical doctors.

While we await the movie censors board to up their game in terms of regulating what is aired on TV, we urge you, dear Nigerians, to consult medical graduates with certificates and not bus-hanging hungry men and women selling poison to you just so they can make some money.

Till we meet next, Stay Safe.

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