ABOUT OUR GUEST TODAY
JORDYN REDWOOD is a nurse by day and suspense novelist by night. Jordyn has specialized in critical care and emergency nursing for the last eighteen years. She blogs at Redwood’s Medical Edge which helps historical and contemporary authors write medically accurate fiction.
AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR FEATURED GUEST
I once heard a talk given by Ted Dekker several years ago who described a fiction novel as a “story bubble”. Our job as authors is to maintain that world for the reader and not do anything in the writing that will pull them out of that happy little snow globe of fun. For me as a nurse, one thing that will pull me out of a story is inaccuracy when it comes to medical facts. When I see these, I begin to question what other details the author may have been loose with. Now, I’m out of the story bubble and questioning whether I should put the book down.
Here are the most common inaccuracies I see regarding medical fact in fiction.
- Referring to an IV catheter as a needle: When an IV is placed, a needle is used to “cannulate” or place the catheter inside the vein. What is actually left inside the vein is a small plastic tube and not a needle.
- That a person on a breathing machine can talk or moan: The process of speaking happens when we pass air through our vocal cords. When a person is on a breathing machine, a large tube called an endotracheal tube is passed through their vocal cords so air can be delivered directly to the lungs. Because this tube is in place, air cannot pass through the cords; therefore the person cannot speak or moan. There are some tracheotomy tubes that will allow a person to speak through a special valve but these are typically employed during the rehab process and the person must have a tracheotomy site where the breathing tube is placed in the front of the neck.
- Anatomy Issues: Here is a sentence I read in a published novel. I’ve changed the name of the main character. “John Doe looked at the scar that ran along his right rib line, where a splenectomy incision might be.” Did you catch the problem? Your spleen is on the left side. Your liver actually sits in your lower right rib cage. Anatomy issues are the easiest to research at Google. Just type in, “what side is the spleen on” and you’ll be able to get an answer in a few seconds.
I hope these are helpful. I go into further detail about these issues on my blog. You can find it at www.jordynredwood.com.
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Thank you, Jordyn, for sharing with us today.
Guest Question: What medical inaccuracies have you caught in a novel?