House calls: Not just a TV show, but a diagnostic tool

That was the lesson for one German doctor, Dr Juergen Schaefer, a fan of the US medical drama, House.

He was able to diagnose a 55-year-old man referred to him with severe heart failure and a puzzling mix of symptoms including fever, blindness, deafness and enlarged lymph nodes, which stumped other doctors for months.

"After five minutes, I knew what was wrong," said Dr Schaefer, who works at the Centre for Undiagnosed Diseases in Marburg, north of Frankfurt.

He said the man's symptoms matched up almost perfectly with a patient on an episode in which the fictional Dr Gregory House, played by British actor Hugh Laurie, identified cobalt poisoning as the cause.

The series ended in 2012 after an eight-year run.

Dr Schaefer regularly uses the television series to teach medical students.

When he saw the patient with heart failure in May 2012, he had recently prepared a lecture on the show's cobalt poisoning case, where