Doctors' journal blames Peppa Pig for “unrealistic” medical care

Kinderling News & Features

Queen of kids’ cartoon Peppa Pig is no stranger to criticism. In the past, parents have called her rude and obnoxious and even slammed her for ‘fat-shaming’ Daddy Pig’s portly paunch (which she does on the reg).

Now she’s copping it from an unlikely corner – the prestigious British Medical Journal (now known as just The BMJ). In a very amusing article entitled ‘Does Peppa Pig encourage inappropriate use of primary care resources?’, doctor Catherine Bell questions whether Peppa’s doctor, Dr Brown Bear, is giving viewers “unrealistic expectations” of medical care.

Well, der. For starters, he's a talking bear!

Doctor Brown Bear under the microscope

Dr Bell writes: “As a general practitioner, I have often wondered why some patients immediately attempt to consult their GP about minor ailments of short duration. As the mother of a toddler and frequent witness to the children’s television series Peppa Pig, I might have discovered the answer.”

Critically analysing three episodes from the show (see below), Dr Bell argues Dr Brown Bear regularly goes above and beyond normal duties by offering direct telephone access, extended hours and ample (and unjustified) home visits. She argues this could lead families at home to expect such services in real life, over-burdening the health service. 

Yep, it turns out Peppa's doc is just too good at his job!

Sure it’s a cartoon, but given Peppa's the world’s most famous pork product beside bacon, she may have a point about Peppa's influence. She explains: "Given that Peppa Pig is broadcast and encountered by parents in more than 180 countries worldwide, the influence of his portrayal of the work of primary care physicians is likely to be significant.” 

What’s next? Research into harmful bacteria contracted from ‘muddy puddles’? We can't wait to read that one!

Dr Bell’s case study analysis, as featured in The BMJ

"Case study 1: Not very well

A 3 year old piglet develops an erythematous maculopapular facial rash. Her parents call Dr Brown Bear, who operates a “doctor first” telephone triage system. Dr Brown Bear advises putting the patient to bed and opts to make an urgent home visit.

He examines the patient’s tongue, diagnoses a “rash,” and reassures the parents it is “nothing serious.” He offers a dose of medicine, despite admitting this is purely in response to the patient’s request, and says the rash is likely to clear up quickly regardless.

Case study 2: George catches a cold

Parents call Dr Brown Bear on a Saturday regarding an 18 month old piglet with a 2 minute history of coryzal symptoms after playing outside without his rain hat.

Dr Brown Bear telephone triages and makes an urgent home visit.

After examining the throat, he diagnoses an upper respiratory tract infection and advises bed rest and warm milk. Symptoms resolve within 12 hours.

Case study 3: Pedro’s cough

A 3 year old pony coughs three times while attending playgroup. The nursery teacher immediately calls Dr Brown Bear, who telephone triages and makes an urgent visit to the playgroup. In a green light car. With sirens.

Dr Brown Bear takes a focused history, asking if it is “a tickly cough or a chesty cough?” and inquires about duration of symptoms. He does not commit aloud to a diagnosis, but administers a dose of medicine immediately and warns that the cough is potentially transmissible."

The rest of the playgroup attendees and their parents become symptomatic, and all are given a dose of an unspecified pink medicine.

Dr Brown Bear also quickly becomes symptomatic. His patients attend the surgery to administer his dose of medicine, and to sing to him.”