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"Not only that, but I soon found out that the more tests I ordered, the more complications there were..." - Roy Basch, The House of God

Nothing forms the basis of arguably the most important Law of the House of God, Law XIII: The delivery of medical care is to do as much nothing as possible. A variation on doing nothing is "waiting for the disease to declare itself." That is a fancier way of saying that one will do nothing, then wait and see what happens.

Nothing in The House of God

Excerpt from Chapter 6 of The House of God:

"But the Fat Man said that Anna O. is always like this, and that in a ninety-five-year-old, dementia is normal."

"Dementia's never normal," said Jo, "never."

"Maybe not," I said, "but the Fat Man said that the way to treat her is to do nothing except try like hell to find a new bed at the nursing home."

"I never do nothing. I'm a doctor, I deliver medical care."

"The Fat Man said that for gomers, doing nothing is the delivery of medical care. If you do something, he said, you make everything worse..."

Excerpt from Chapter 12 of The House of God:

There was a crowd of people in the waiting room, a melange looking like a bar mitzvah at the United Nations.

"My outpatients. I do nothing for them, and they love me. You know how much booze, hot merchandise, and food there's gonna be in that crowd at Hanukkah and Christmas presents for me? And all because I don't do a goddamn medical thing."

"You're telling me again that the cure is worse than the disease?"

"Nope. I'm telling you that the curse is the disease. The main source of illness in this world is the doctor's own illness: his compulsion to try to cure and his fraudulent belief that he can. It ain't easy to do nothing, now that society is telling everyone that the body is fundamentally flawed and about to self-destruct. People are afraid they're on the verge of death all the time, and that they'd better get their 'routine physical' right away. Physicals! How much have you ever learned from a physical?"

"Not too much," I said, realizing that this was true.

Nothing in Scrubs

Excerpt from Season 2, Episode 1 "My Overkill" from Scrubs:

DR. KELSO: Dr. Dorian? How 'bout you step up to the mic and tell the entire gang how you ended up treating Mr. Zerbo.

J.D.'S THOUGHTS: Think, Whiz Kid, think! (He tries to come up with an excuse, but...) Ah, the hell with it.

J.D. OUT LOUD: Sir, I did nothing. (Everyone in the room stares at J.D. with disbelief.)

DR. KELSO: You did... nothing?

J.D. OUT LOUD: Nothing at all.

DR. KELSO (looks down at chart, reads chart, then looks at J.D. with a smile): Great job, sport!


DR. KELSO (to the other doctors): Whenever a patient gets bounced from ward to ward, there's always a chance a high fever could be sustained, or even caused, by a constant stream of different antibiotics. It's called drug fever. And it's a good catch by Dr. Dorian. (J.D. smiles, almost uncomfortably, at the sheer luck of it all.) Next patient! Mush, people. (They stand, unmoving.) Mush! Hyah! Hyah! Hyah!!!! (The group shuffles out of Mr. Zerbo's room. J.D. furrows his brow.)

MR. ZERBO: Thank you, doctor.

J.D. OUT LOUD (with a weak smile): Oh, no problem.

J.D.'S THOUGHTS: It's funny... I guess sometimes when you do nothing at all, things just have a way of fixing themselves.

Excerpt from Season 2, Episode 2 "My Nightingale" from Scrubs:

CARLA (in the hospital room): Officer Berson's spiraling a bit.

ELLIOT: His pulmonary edema seems to be secondary to acute mitral regurgitation. If it turns out to be a flail leaflet, he'll need surgery.

TURK: Yeah, but his vitals are so weak, I wouldn't feel confident about taking him to the OR.

J.D.'S THOUGHTS: Ahh, the classic Catch-22 between Medical and Surgical. Bottom line, somebody needs to be decisive.

J.D.: Okay, here's the plan: We do nothing.

ELLIOT: Sounds good.

TURK: I'm in.

CARLA (sarcastically): That's inspiring.

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