Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; Journal Review Editor: Brenda L. Seago, MLS, MA, Medical College of Virginia Campus, Virginia Commonwealth University.
Bodies is a new medical drama showing on BBC America. Its writer and creator, Jed Mercurio, a former National Health Service (NHS) physician, describes it as a show that “depicts hospital life in a way that is more graphic than ever before.” The show fulfills that claim in every respect. While there are at least four medical dramas on television this fall, none shows the world of medicine as Bodies does.
Bodies depicts life on an obstetrics and gynecology ward in an NHS hospital in England. The main character, Rob Lake (Max Beesley), is a new resident whose attending, Roger Hurley (Patrick Baladi), is well-known for his research but is regarded by his peers as an unsafe physician. When Hurley makes a decision that leaves a patient brain-damaged and her infant still-born, Lake and an anesthesiologist, Maria Orton (Susan Lynch) decide to blow the whistle. Through a series of near-misses and actual malpractice, a web of cover-ups and social dysfunction appears. While some interactions are clichéd—doctors vs nurses, obstetricians vs midwifes—these exchanges feel different. Initially, the characters remind us of people we work with every day. They quickly evolve into people who are all marginalized in one way or another. None of these characters has anyone to call a friend. Each traverses his or her existence in isolation.
Chongsiriwatana KM. Medical Drama. JAMA. 2005;294(21):2770. doi:10.1001/jama.294.21.2770-a