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In an early episode of NBC’s medical drama New Amsterdam, viewers see a 10-year-old boy named Leo sitting on a hospital floor, listless and unspeaking. “He used to be energetic. Silly,” his mother laments. She explains to a doctor that, for several years, Leo has been taking a powerful cocktail of antipsychotic medications following a series of violent outbursts at school. “Who needs breakfast, am I right? Fistful of pills like that every morning,” the child psychiatrist Dr. Iggy Frome (played by Tyler Labine) quips as he reviews Leo’s list of prescriptions.

Within minutes of meeting Leo, Frome decides to take him off his meds, later exposing the boy to the absurdly risky process of “rapid-detox dialysis” to remove the medications from his system as quickly as possible. This detox, viewers are told, is intended to allow a trial course of behavioral therapy. But by the end of the episode, therapy is largely unnecessary. Freed from his psychotropic prison, Leo is restored to his old self: He smiles, hugs his mother, and freely articulates the guilt he’s been feeling over his father’s death. It’s a storyline that caters to nebulous fears and conspiracy theories about health care and pharmaceuticals. It’s also one of many times on New Amsterdam when complex medical problems evaporate as soon as anyone cares enough to address them.

…continue reading ‘New Amsterdam Is a Medical Drama That Fails Doctors—and Viewers’

Thumb image via The Atlantic – Virginia Sherwood/NBC

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