From Omaha to 'Nashville'

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | December 27, 2013

Image with caption: Paul Paulman, M.D.

Paul Paulman, M.D.

Fans of the televised drama "Nashville" may have been affected by the pregnancy storyline that Kimberly Williams-Paisley's character, Peggy Kenter, underwent earlier this year -- but they may not have known that some of the medical nuts and bolts behind that storyline were supplied by UNMC's Paul Paulman, M.D.

"He was great," said Scott Recchia, the researcher who reached out to Dr. Paulman for information on false pregnancy, or pseudocyesis. Recchia's company, Entertainment Research Consultants, provides medical facts to shows such as "C.S.I." and "Bones." The "Nashville" job was unusual, Recchia said, because the show -- a drama set in the cutthroat world of country music -- doesn't generally call for much medical input.

False pregnancy is a rare disease, Dr. Paulman said, and because of the nature of the disease, studies of it are conducted following its discovery. Because of the nature of the disease, a controlled trial on women while they are suffering from it is problematical, he said.

"So Mr. Recchia called me, he asked for some technical advice," Dr. Paulman said. "He came in with a list of questions, and the whole thing took a few minutes."

There was no credit line on the episode, and there will be no royalties or residuals, but Dr. Paulman enjoyed the chance to shine a light on a rare condition, although in the show, Peggy was ultimately shown to be knowingly faking the pregnancy.

"I thought it was a great story idea," he said. "It's a condition that is not that well known by the public, and there are also some physical changes that parallel pregnancy. It could lead to a very complex set of situations or interactions."

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Howard Liu
December 27, 2013 at 7:10 AM

Congratulations, Paul - you are a valuable family medicine resource for all of us and I am glad to see you recognized for it on a national basis!