As a public teaching hospital, Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital (PPTH) runs a free clinic. Doctors who work at the hospital are required to put in a minimum number of hours working at the clinic.
In the Pilot, we learn that Dr. House has not performed any clinic duty since he started working at PPTH. When he continues to refuse, Dr. Cuddy cuts off his hospital privileges until he starts making up the time. In the pilot episode, House said his missed time in the clinic will be made up by 2054.
House cannot stand the routine of working at the clinic, dealing with routine illnesses and what he feels are "easy" diagnoses, together with the necessity of filling in patient charts. As a result, he does everything he can to avoid such duty, including:
- Faking minor illness, like a cold;
- Making bets with his staff;
- In one case, agreeing to give up Vicodin for a week;
However, many of the diagnoses that House makes at the clinic are often life-changing for the patient. In one case, he not only quickly determined a patient diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder was actually afflicted with Diabetes insipidus, he correctly determined that the underlying cause was a gymnastics injury.
In addition, clinic patients often provide House with the inspiration to figure out the primary case. The clinic also gives us an opportunity to find out just how extraordinary House's diagnostic skills are. Once, when trying to leave the clinic early, he diagnosed four patients in a little over a minute.