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Rod Brouhard, EMT  P

Not All Survivors Get Voted Off the Island

By October 24, 2012

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The shtick on Survivor: Philippines this season is the return of three former contestants evacuated from the game for medical reasons. As luck would have it, last week one of the freshman survivors of this season (not a returning player) bowed out of the competition with severe abdominal pain.

The medical team was brought in to evaluate Dana Lambert after she spent a night bundled up, burning up and doubled over. During the assessment, Jeff Probst asked the healthcare provider (sometimes they're docs and sometimes they're medics) whether Dana had a life threatening condition. The caregiver said he thought she could stay on the island for another 12 hours and be evaluated again later.

Dana chose to leave. She just couldn't take it anymore.

The truth is the caregiver had no way to know for sure what was going on. Abdominal pain is the complain that most often goes undiagnosed in the emergency department. If a modern ER with all the toys can't diagnose most abdominal pain, a single caregiver in the wilderness probably won't either. There are a few things he might be able to diagnose, but he didn't sound too sure on the show.

The show isn't -- or at least it wasn't -- always hands-off when it comes to medical care on the contestants. They will sometimes intervene without pulling a survivor off the island. A few years ago I interviewed the doctor in charge of medical care for the cast and crew of Survivor. Some of the interventions really surprised me.

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