Is the entire plot of 'Flatliners' hinged on a popular misconception about medical equipment?

I recently read that defibrillators cannot make a still heart beat again–they can only correct a pulse that has gone off track-arrythmia or whatever (sorry if I’m saying it all wrong, I ain’t the brightest). Which is annoying enough, when you think of all the scenes in medical dramas wherein we are lead to believe otherwise. But, if I remember the plot of ‘Flatliners’ correctly AND understand what defibrillators can and cannot do(big ifs, admittedly)—doesn’t that mean their whole experiment is rendered not just ‘risky and stupid’, but COMPLETELY unworkable? Or were they using something else to ‘revive’ each other that I’m forgetting?

CPR can restart a stopped heart. But it’s not only not guaranteed to work, but can cause some rather unpleasant complications even when it does (broken ribs are not uncommon, for instance).

Wikipedia says your article is correct.

I did not think to look there. I did make a half-assed effort to find my answer on the internet, but that just didn’t occur to me. Thanks.

If my memory of the movie is correct, they didn’t perform CPR. They just used a defibrillator.

Right. Defibrillators de-fibrillate the heart when the ventricles are fibrillating (quivering with very uncoordinated contractions which are too small to actually get blood pumping through the heart.) They don’t work, contrary to the movie’s title, on someone who has “flatlined”, or has no cardiac activity left.

But y’know, they had Jami Gertz’ naked boobies right, so there’s that going for them.

I think they actually did do CPR one time-but it was a plan B, because the electricity went out on their (actually totally useless) defibrillator.

I just cannot explain how ripped off I feel. I wish I could call the authors of the screenplay and demand that they rewrite the script, with an eye to medical accuracy, so that I can get some sleep.

I guess people like me are why we have unlisted numbers.

I don’t recall her being in the movie? Maybe you are thinking of Julia Robert’s boobies? She was actually wearing a bra, but she was topless for her ‘turn’ going under.

CPR on its own will not restart a stopped heart, the point of CPR is to maintain blood supply to the vital organs. That said, sometimes the heart has not stopped entirely, in which case it may be bumped back.

How does one restart a stopped hear? (Need answer fast!)

If the heart is actually stopped, and CPR doesn’t work, then atropine and/or adrenaline injections, more CPR, and maybe heart massage (does anyone do that any more?) Not that these are likely to work either.

It’s been a while since I saw the movie - but didn’t they also do adrenaline injections first? This would start the heart, and the defi would then knock it into a good rhythm.

I guess the producers could’ve avoided problems by taking the McGyver/Myth Busters route: “to discourage kids from trying this at home, an important step/ ingredient was not shown”. (Aside from the whole idea itself being stupid in the first place, and certainly med.students should know better).

I understand you also have to shout “Don’t you die on me, dammit!” while pounding on their chest. The “dammit” is particularly important.

Flatliners was a wonderfully dumb movie about a bunch of medical students (in a school where enormous Renaissance art on the walls is apparently very important) getting a jump start on purgatory. That they managed to get the basic idea wrong is just par for the Hollywood course.

and howcum the fat student didn’t get his own purgatory experience? Not attractive enough, I guess.

:smack: Of course.

How fast can you pray?

Restarting the heart after surgery

EMT here.

Once the EKG is flat, there’s no coming back. Hearts stopped in surgery still have electrical activity going on, so they are able to be re-started.

Ah. Makes sense.

I have actually had my heart restarted with a defib (as part of surgery for an arrhymia) and I was starting to wonder if my doctor had lied to me, so common are the cites saying that defibs don’t restart (flatline ECG) hearts.

Now I can actually square it all :slight_smile:

Movies are about story telling, not accuracy.

It doesn’t matter if the movie has medical stuff, computer stuff, police stuff, military stuff, car stuff, or just plain old boys-&-girls stuff. They’ll screw up the details completely in the interest of making a story. Or because the writers are clueless & lazy.

So best to just check your expertise at the door.

Surely you’ve been to enough movies by now to understand this.

Didn’t they have another bit of equipment that looked like a blanket made of neon tubes, which made people cold if the lights were blue, and warm if they were orange? Don’t think those really work like that either (chiefly because they don’t exist at all)