Singaporean Television Drama – The Oath

Loathe as I am to admit it, the medical drama The Oath by Wawa Productions, is actually quite entertaining to watch.

The Oath

It’s so bad, it’s good. It’s like how forensic experts roll their eyes at the popular show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and lament how juries in the US nowadays expect the same impossible magic before convicting criminals (“What, you don’t have DNA evidence + tire trails + electronic money trail + 5 CCTV surveillance tapes + trace chemicals matching the one from this obscure chemical plant 20 years ago, we can’t convict this robber!”)

Similarly, we have actually had people ask: “Can poking the fingertips and rubbing the ears help to treat acute stroke?”

The Oath Episode 1

Then there’s this blood-vomitus-inducing car accident part at 12:30 of the above video that explains why the character acted by Christopher Lee basically got kicked out of medical school for general quackery. First, please contrast what happened in the above video with the below video (read: Singaporean scriptwriters may have copied a few things from more successful dramas)

Iryu Team Medical Dragon Episode 1

It starts from 0:45min, where they make a judgement after listening for breathing and percussing for hyperresonance that this lady has suffered bilateral spontaneous pneumothorax requiring urgent needle (pen) decompression to buy time pending arrival of the ambulance.

Now compare that with The Oath, where the medical student played by Christopher Lee on his way to an exam runs to a polytrauma patient from a road traffic accident, does not try to assess / open the airway, does not listen for breathing, and proceeds to jab a pen into her chest. Nice. The blog link above says it’s a cricothyroidotomy but the area of insertion is wrong, it’s more likely an improvised needle decompression.

And the best thing is that at the committee, the committee points out that no one is questioning his motives but he should not be performing such risky manoeuvres before he is a doctor.

What?! No doctor who follows evidenced-based medicine or is aware of Advanced Trauma Life Support would do this kind of quackery! Good intentions do not protect you from behaviour that puts the patient’s life at further risk!

Moving along, the driver of the vehicle he is in suffers a stroke. With the loss of consciousness and facial asymmetry, a stroke is indeed a good clinical diagnosis. However, he proceeds to do capillary pinprick followed by ear lobe pinprick all the while instructing a hapless bystander to massage this man’s ears until they turn red. He later blithely tells the doctor at the hospital that he’s diagnosed this man with an intracranial haemorrhage. Nice.

In response to Jesseca Liu’s character’s by-the-book-safe-evidence-based-medicine-patient-confidentiality thing, he arrogantly talks down to her and comments that the calibre of doctors has gone down since he left. Is the show trying to promote the humble, kind-hearted and talented TCM practitioner, or trying to paint him as an arrogant maverick?

Interestingly, he invokes the Good Samaritan Law (not present in Singapore). One of my issues with the show’s interpretation are that it does not cover just medical professionals… But that said, discussion of the Good Samaritan Law warrants another post.


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