by Yume, June 20, 2020

Hello! It’s Yume ~  During my time here, I managed to graduate from university and become a licensed Biomedical Laboratory Scientist. 

I’ve been working for a year now, in both the Microbiology and Molecular biology section. It’s pretty much a hidden profession in the healthcare field, nobody knows we exist. What we do is analyzing clinical samples, which is basically the most important part, yet no one knows us *laughs miserably*.

This article will be about critically reviewing some medical/laboratory scenes and recurring moments in dramas that are just questionable from my profession’s point of view. We have a lot of diversity in our work, so we know a lot about human physiology, diseases, microorganisms, and everything in between. But anyways, let’s get grumpy!

Do you have a headache? STRAIGHT TO THE ER!

Headache, fever, the smallest little discomfort or inconvenience is worrisome, it might be a sign of death! Take the fastest taxi to the hospital!

Go Go Squid! Episode 19

No, but it’s seriously not worth it. Not worth the time spent or the extra work for health care workers. Why go to the ER for a headache, fever, or whenever the evil mother-in-law faints? Or personally bringing a doctor all the way home. Since when are we so weak to not be able to handle a small headache? The ER is for an emergency, I honestly don’t understand the purpose of these types of scenes. Also, we can’t forget the most important part: IV drops, the final touch of a medical scene, the cherry on top. The funny thing, in all these scenes, is the nurses and doctors always say the same thing: “The patient just needs to rest”. You don’t say!

Having a cold or flu? Antibiotics are a big NO!

I saw this scene, from Go Go Squid!, where a character had some type of cold or flu. His daughter came to take care of him by giving him antibiotics. That’s a huge mistake, I’ll tell you why.   

Go Go Squid! Episode 27

A common cold is caused by a virus, antibiotics are medication used to treat bacteria, and there’s a huge difference between virus and bacteria: they don’t look the same. Bacteria are cells that have cell walls, chromosomes (DNA) and other different components. Viruses are not even cells, hence they are not considered as “living things”. They can either have viral DNA or RNA and can replicate only if they are inside a host cell.

So, the reason why antibiotics don’t work on a virus is, logically, because they are designed to target bacterial components, like their cell walls. When using antibiotics for wrong causes, resistant bacteria will develop, and the antibiotics won't work when we really need them.

I could talk literally forever about this topic. My thesis was all about how to quickly identify these resistant bacteria. Antibiotics must be prescribed by a doctor. Sadly, in many countries, they’re easily accessible. In this case (image), not only will the antibiotics do practically nothing, but also Fluidixine has nothing to do with bacteria that cause respiratory illnesses! When it comes to viral infections, let your body handle everything, in other words, the immune system.

The typical “Treating an injury” scene: Be gentle!

I just have one question. Why is this scene in every Korean drama? Honestly, it didn’t use to bother me, but nowadays, it does. Usually, the scene consists of one of the leads treating the other lead’s injury on the hand or the forehead, followed by “Be gentle please!”. I mean, they are literally adding alcohol on the wound! If they dab the cotton more gently, will the alcohol sting less?

It’s like that meme: “Honey, where are you?”, "I'm waiting for a bus", "Hurry up!", "OK, I'll be waiting a little faster."

Black Episode 8

Laboratory fashion 

Partners for Justice is probably the only one I’ve seen that consistently showed some laboratory work, in this case, Stella Hwang, a toxicologist played by Stephanie Lee. I think it’ll be easier to list the mistakes I spotted:

  • Nail polish

  • Hair down

  • Eating and drinking

  • Lab coat not buttoned up

  • Bracelets 

  • No pants

In a laboratory environment, it’s absolutely dangerous to eat and drink, especially for Stella as she works with toxic substances! But she kept making her own coffee, near the lab equipment too. It’s dangerous for the consumer since it's close to hazardous chemicals, and it’s dangerous for the products, samples, instruments, and items that are in the lab as they can get contaminated and ruined.

Nail polish is also forbidden, it can chip while changing gloves hence contaminating the samples you work with. Hair must be clean and tied up, if it’s hanging down in a place that is exposed to dangerous chemicals and samples, it will get contaminated, and you’ll be carrying those stuff around in your hair for the rest of the day. Long nails are also not allowed since they can carry bacteria, it’s a little difficult to wash underneath the nail.

Partners for Justice Episode 2

Bracelets, rings, necklaces and earrings that are dangling are also forbidden for the same causes as above, contamination, and they can puncture gloves. Wearing pants is for our own safety, in the drama, Stella wears short dresses. What if she drops corrosive substances on herself? Bye-bye skin, I would say.

Working clothes in a lab can be different depending on where you work. It can be short sleeves or lab coats. Short sleeves are recommended if you work closely with patients, it’s easier to feel if you get anything on the arms and wash it off.

If you wear a lab coat, it’s supposed to be buttoned up, and, depending on where you work, to roll the sleeves up. Not rolling the sleeves is useful when working with sensitive samples, to protect them, or to protect yourself when working with, for example, RNA virus, they fly around and get everywhere! We can’t think about our fashion when we work, people!

We have so many rules in the lab, but it’s just for our own safety and to make sure we produce accurate results. I’ve been too negative so let me list some of my favorite medical dramas to lighten up the mood!

             Partners for Justice                  Good doctor                               Code Blue                                God's Quiz


Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim          Dr. Champ                 Seinaru Kaibutsutachi            Emergency Couple


Thank you for reading, I hope you liked it. If you have any questions or criticism, feel free to comment. Stay safe and healthy!

Edited by: Cookie (1st editor)

medical medical drama laboratory partners for justice go go squid! laboration