Life as an Extreme Sport

House (M.D.) Trivia

Occasionally it’s fun read the IMDB trivia page for TV shows. For example, while I’ve long dismissed the criticism that there’s no such thing as a diagnostician team/division of diagnostic medicine in hospitals (while I am willing to accept I sometimes have a creative mind, I’m not yet willing to believe I’ve completely made up people I know, working in hospitals, who are working in that field), I’ve been puzzled by Chase’s title, intensivist. According to IMDB, an intensivist is doctor who specializes in intensive care. This specialty is new and uncommon in the United States, but well-established in Australia, where the character is from. Neat, eh? A good attention to detail, which is something I can appreciate.

(For those who might have missed out, I’m actually working on a project about television, media, medicine and responsibility. And by working on, I mean doing a lot of reading, and debating justifying the purchase of the first two seasons of House, MD…as research, of course.)


  1. Er, no – the point is that they didn’t make anything up. An intensivist is specialist in intensive care medicine. In Australia, they run the ICU, and if the have specialties, other ICUs (PICU, SICU, MICU, etc).

    US ICUs are generally run by the parent unit admits and tends to their patients using specialized resources the ICU makes available. (These are called open ICUs.) Australia has closed ICUs, with their own attendings, chiefs, and structure that any other unit would have. Patients are transferred to their care, and they manage the unit.

    This is actually a stunningly good idea for multiple reasons, including the very basic fact that the problems you encounter in the ICU are vastly different than the sorts of things the average patient in an average unit is going to encounter. On a practical side, it’s also easier on hospital finances if one group is managing a unit.

  2. Anybody can edit IMDB, so take everything there with a grain of salt (even really basic info about movies and actors, let alone items about the U.S. health care system).

    Critical care medicine (i.e. the specialization in intensive care) isn’t *all* that new or uncommon in the U.S. It’s been recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties since 1986, and the American Board of Internal Medicine has awarded more critical care certificates than it has in endocrinology, nephrology, infectious disease, and other specialties that aren’t particularly unheard of ( And that likely doesn’t count people certified in critical care by other primary boards.

    Divisions of diagnostic medicine are pretty rare, but they do exist. E.g., St. Louis Children’s Hospital has a Diagnostic Center (

  3. Oh, I’m aware of the editing freedom, S – that’s why I went and poked around the web for a while before deciding to write anything. (And made sure I actually went to a couple of Oz medical programs for factual verification.)

    Given that my field, bioethics, is considered new, and has been around a good 30-40 years, I think it’s still pretty safe to call intensivists new, too. Obviously not 5-years new, but 20 years isn’t long for a specialty to exist.

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