97 Seconds
House 97seconds-lobby 0045 f
October 9, 2007
Episode Number
4.3 Rating
Final Diagnosis
Zebra Factor
House: "Look familiar? I think the last time you saw it, it didn’t have that dead dog’s teeth marks on it."
Thirteen: "I just put it on the bed tray to get him some water"
House: "When I asked you if you had watched the patient swallow the pills the right answer was “No”. Take his body down to the morgue."
— 97 Seconds

97 Seconds is a 4th season episode of House which first aired on October 9, 2007. A wheelchair bound man is admitted after he passes out in his wheelchair. House decides to make a game of it and pits the female applicants against the male applicants with the losing team being eliminated. The manipulative “Cutthroat Bitch” decides to play both sides to increase her chances. However, after one of the applicants prescribes what seems to be the right treatment, the patient doesn’t improve and House has to work harder than ever to save him. Meanwhile, House becomes intrigued with a man who has suffered a near-death episode.

See The Applicants for more information about the cast of this episode.


A wheelchair-bound man is out with his companion dog when he suddenly lapses into unconsciousness in the middle of the street. His dog manages to avert disaster by warning an oncoming driver and gets the attention of passers-by to help.

Meanwhile, the remaining applicants are impatiently hanging out in the lecture hall waiting for House. As the manipulative applicant starts to leave, House finally arrives with a case. He wants to split them into competing teams, and finally decides to go by sex. However, Amber wants to join the men. House hesitates to allow this and finally decides to leave it up to the men. The men refuse to let her join. The teams split up and discuss strategies. Thirteen suspects House already knows the answer. The men’s team decides to run as many tests as they can.

Meanwhile, Cameron is busy in the emergency room. Amber tells her House has turned patient care into a game, and plays on Cameron's empathy to enlist her help.

Thirteen thinks the patient has encountered a parasite (strongyloides during his trip to Thailand) and gives the patient treatment—two tablets of ivermectin. Kutner comes in to do tests and has Brennan carry the patient to the bathroom to take a stool sample.

House drops in on Cuddy while his teams use his office. She tells him he can't make a competition out of patient care. Cuddy thinks House already knows what is wrong. He instead wants to talk about the clinic patient, but Cuddy remains focused on the competition. House threatens to fire all the applicants if Cuddy stops him, and then to re-start the process with new applicants.

Meanwhile, Foreman is leading his own team at New York Mercy Hospital, doing a differential in a manner very similar to House. After realizing their patient might be having vison problems due to the fact she's given up crossword puzzles, he thinks it is aspergillis and orders treatment.

Amber offers the men help so House will have to pick her as the only remaining woman. She says she has a diagnostic strategy directly from one of House's former fellows. The plan is to have bugs bite the patient and then test the bugs' excrement for parasites—xenodiagnosis. As they begin the test the patient goes into respiratory distress.

The patient improves when put on oxygen. His problem is that the air is going into his stomach instead of his lungs. Thirteen thinks it's related to the condition that makes him wheelchair-bound. One of the Twins suggests putting him on a tilt table to stress him. House punishes the male team for doing too many tests by making them sit out, and tells them one of them isn't a real doctor.

Meanwhile, Foreman is having problems diagnosing his patient when the first diagnosis turns out to be wrong. He starts concentrating on why the patient’s liver just failed.

The male team is sequestered in House's office with instructions not to talk. They break the rule and start interrogating each other to learn who is not a doctor, then start discussing the case instead. They think it might be a tumor, and wonder how to get away to test the patient. Amber sneaks out of the room when they realize they are being monitored from House's computer.

The other team is testing the patient on the tilt table, but the patient enjoys it and shows no ill effects.

House holds a "tribal council" in the lecture hall. He fires the men for failing the test. Amber arrives with a CT Scan, offering a diagnosis of scleraderma, but House tells her she has the wrong diagnosis and that strongyloides was the right diagnosis. House tells the female applicants to put the patient on a feeding tube.

Amber asks Chase to do the blood test she is not allowed to do, to prove she was right. He refuses because he knows she was fired, so she appeals to his desire to irritate House. He knows he's being manipulated and thinks she's wrong, but agrees anyway. She draws blood for the lab tests, and discovers the patient's blood is green.

The teams discuss why the patient's blood is green. House admits that he was wrong about the strongyloides diagnosis and allows the men to return. The plastic surgeon thinks it is because the patient couldn't process the CT's contrast dye through his kidneys. They discuss why the patient's kidneys might be failing.

House confronts Chase about helping Amber who was officially fired. Chase stands up to him. Cameron tells House how much she likes Chase like this.

The patient develops pneumonia and all the tests come back negative. House deduces it must be cancer.

Foreman finally determines the correct diagnosis for his own patient—a fast acting form of lymphoma. He suggests radiation therapy to his superior. She notes that he hasn't ruled out infection, which would be easier and safer to treat; Foreman argues that there's no time for a textbook approach, but she counters that radiation therapy is too dangerous because if he's wrong the patient will die even more quickly. She thinks he is still worried about the patient he lost with a wrong diagnosis, tells him not to make the same mistake twice, and orders antibiotics. She tells him to confirm the cancer but he points out that if it is cancer, it will be too late to treat her once it's confirmed.

Meanwhile, House is planning on removing the patient's eye to see if it has melanoma. Cuddy wants him to do a biopsy, but the patient will be dead before they can get the results. If the patient does have melanoma he will only have months to live, because it's too late to successfully treat it. The patient is resigned to dying rather than spending the rest of his life in bed trapped in a useless body, and says he wants to know what exists after death. When House tells him the afterlife is bogus, Wilson throws him out of the room. Wilson then angrily confronts him about not letting the patient have a little comfort in his beliefs. When House says that it's all a lie and that "misery is better than nothing," Wilson tells him that he doesn't know any better than anyone whether there is an afterlife.

Foreman stares at his whiteboard and decides to take his patient for radiation therapy.

The team start palliative care on the patient. They discover that the patient isn't bleeding internally, which he should be doing if he has cancer. Amber gets a page from House, and as she approaches his office, finds he has electrocuted himself the same way his clinic patient did. She starts CPR.

The team discuss what happened to House. Wilson arrives and tells them he is alive but unconscious. They start talking about the case again. Brennan suggests eosinophilic pneumonia.

House wakes up to find Wilson calling him an idiot. Wilson fills him in on the patient and tells him the clinic patient is dead. House said he shocked himself because Wilson challenged him to see the afterlife for himself. Wilson reminds him that he has already had two other near-death experiences. Wilson asks House what he saw but House doesn't respond. Wilson says, "Just looking at you hurts. I'm gonna order up some more pain meds." House responds in an unexpectedly heartfelt tone, "I love you."

The applicants give the patient steroids for his pneumonia, but he doesn't get better. He asks for his companion dog to be placed on the bed with him. He soon goes into cardiac arrest and dies.

Amber tells House the patient is dead. House says death is not a diagnosis, and gets out of bed to see the patient. She wants to know why he paged her, but he's evasive, claiming he knew she wouldn't let him die because she wouldn't get the job if he were gone.

House is discussing the patient with the applicants when they realize the dog is dead too. The veterinarian mentions that companion animals often live beyond their normal lifespans to stay with their masters, dying soon after the human has passed. House asks Thirteen if she saw the patient swallow the ivermectin, but she's not sure. House finds the empty pill cup on the floor, with dog bites in the plastic. The dog, an English Sheepdog, has died because of an adverse reaction to the medicine due to a defect in its MDR1 gene. House angrily tells Thirteen that the answer to the question was "No, I didn't see him swallow the pills."

Cuddy tells House he screwed up and is responsible for the mistake his applicant made.

Meanwhile, Foreman’s patient quickly improves, confirming his diagnosis. However his superior fires him for acting on a hunch and disobeying her orders instead of following protocol.

Strongyloides is what killed House's patient, because he didn't take the pills. Because he believed the patient had taken the ivermectin, House ruled it out, even though it was one of his initial theories. House finds Thirteen in the morgue with the dead patient. Thirteen tells him that as soon as they cut into his lungs they saw the parasitic threadworms. House doesn't fire Thirteen, but does give her a lecture, telling her that because she screwed up this time, she would never make the same mistake again. He says he fired the rest of her team even though their diagnosis was correct. Thirteen leaves and House says to the patient's body, "I'm sorry to say, I told you so."

Eliminations Edit

Twins and Jodi are fired for killing the patient. Thirteen redeemed herself when she found the worms inside of the patient and the dog but only postmortem and was spared.

Clinic Patient Edit

House greets a patient, who pulls a knife, but instead of attacking House, sticks it in an electrical outlet to electrocute himself. House calls in a crash cart, but wonders why the patient would do this. He can't get Cuddy or Wilson interested in the problem.

House visits the patient in intensive care. He tells House that he was in a head-on collision and was clinically dead for 97 seconds. He describes the experience as the best of his life. When House tries to give him a medical explanation of "a flood of endorphins and serotonin" in the brain, the patient rejects it, stating that he's done every hallucinogenic drug there is, and those experiences were nothing compared to what he experienced while dead. The patient believes there is "something out there" after death. Despite not believing in the afterlife, House is surprised and intrigued.

As his other patient has the same belief in the afterlife, House derides his philosophical beliefs saying the afterlife is bogus. After arguing with Wilson, House returns to the clinic patient, but when the clinic patient looks at him, he leaves.

After House electrocutes himself in an 'experiment' to find out if there is an afterlife, House says to Wilson that he needs to talk to the clinic patient. Wilson tells him the patient died an hour ago, and asks why House wants to see him. House doesn't respond.

Zebra Factor 2/10Edit

Strongyloides isn’t endemic to New Jersey, but it is common in people who travel abroad.

Major Events Edit

  • It is shown that there are now ten fellowship applicants left in the game.
  • House pegs the applicant who will be revealed to be Lawrence Kutner as a former foster child.
  • House splits them in two teams, men vs women. Amber Volakis (the manipulative applicant) leaves her group and joins the men's team instead, so as to be the only woman standing if the other women fail.
  • Due to her manipulative personality, the applicant is dubbed Cutthroat Bitch by both House and Kutner, which soon becomes her official nickname.
  • House meets a patient in the clinic who immediately electrocutes himself.
  • Now that he has become Head of Diagnostics at Mercy, Foreman is shown to be working with his own team.
  • Travis Brennan, Number 37, reveals that he worked with Doctors Without Borders for eight years. House figures out he's also engaged and only wants the job because the fiancé lives locally.
  • House drops hints about one of the men not being a real doctor.
  • House confronts the patient who purposely electrocuted himself in the clinic. The patient reveals that he was in an car accident and actually died at the scene. He described being technically dead as the best 97 seconds of his life but when he asks for his knife back, House refuses to give it to him.
  • Wilson and Amber meet for the first time, although it's very brief.
  • House holds a Tribal Council in the hall and fires all the men.
  • In an attempt to stay in the game, the manipulative applicant asks Chase and Cameron to help her out, even though she was technically fired as part of the men's team.
  • House confronts Chase over aiding the manipulative applicant.
  • With the possibility of their respective patients having cancer, House calls Wilson in for a consult.
  • House and Wilson have an argument over the patient's beliefs about the afterlife.
  • At Mercy, Foreman goes against protocol to save a patient.
  • The clinic patient dies an hour before House regains consciousness after House electrocutes himself to see if there is an afterlife. House never gets to talk to him about the afterlife. The clinic patient died because he had internal injuries when he electrocuted himself.
  • Stark, the main patient, dies because he did not take the pills that would have helped him.
  • The manipulative applicant confronts House over him paging her.
  • House learns that the patient's dog has also passed away. They discover that the dog ate the pills intended for its owner.
  • Foreman is fired from Mercy for disobeying his supervisor.
  • House fires Jodi Desai and the twins but spares Thirteen as he is confident she won't screw up again.
  • House says to the patient's body, "I'm sorry to say, I told you so", implying he didn't see an afterlife.

Trivia & Cultural ReferencesEdit

  • The Confederates and the Yanks (Yankees) were the opposing sides in the American Civil War.
  • Jeffrey Cole’s nickname “Big Love” is from the American drama series of the same name about a polygamous fundamentalist Mormon.
  • In the Star Trek canon, Vulcans have copper based blood and “bleed green“, unlike humans red blood color, which comes from the iron in hemoglobin. Leonard Nimoy played the Vulcan Spock.
  • The reference to “72 virgins” is from the Islamic concept of heaven.
  • A bit of irony. House is wrong about his patient having cancer and the patient dies, but House keeps his job even though he screwed up. Foreman is right about his patient having cancer and saves the patient’s life, but gets fired.
  • The episode features a character who would go on to play a minor recurring role in another FOX show, Bones; Brian Klugman (The main patient of the episode)


Previous episode:
The Right Stuff

97 Seconds
Next episode:
Guardian Angels

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