Healthcare News & Insights

How much would a consult with Dr. House cost?

He always gets the right diagnosis (eventually) but how much would a trip to TV’s House actually cost in real life? NPR recently broke down the cost of a typical patient visit to House, the diagnostic specialist on Fox’s hit show. No way around this fact: It’s pricey.

Using the patient story line from the episode “Ignorance is Bliss,” the final tally came in at just about $300k.

Originally, the patient presented with anemia, a mild cough and ataxia or lack of muscle coordination. The preliminary diagnosis was a rare blood disease. Upon learning of the patient’s heavy drinking, the diagnosis was changed to a potential liver problem which required a liver biopsy at roughly $10k.

Then the patient collapsed — requiring an MRI for about $1k. The MRI indicated the patient had previously suffered a broken rib that healed incorrectly, damaging the spleen — and spurring the growth of 16 “baby spleens.” The estimated cost of a (highly unconventional) “multiple-splenectomy” was $200k.

Following this treatment, the patient suffered a stroke, requiring another $60k in various treatments. In the meantime, he also received various drug treatments which cost in the area of $90k.

That estimate doesn’t take into account the fact that one patient received essentially 24/7 care from a team of specialists — who handled no other patients while he was in their care. (They did however, spend a fair amount of time looking gorgeous and discussing their complicated love lives.)

While it’s easy to mock the show’s portrayal of life in a hospital, $300k to treat one patient is a sadly realistic number given today’s out-of-control health care costs.

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