The medical show, Grey's Anatomy chronicles the lives of doctors, residents, and interns, who all work at the Seattle Grace Hospital. The show focuses on Meredith Grey, portrayed by Ellen Pompeo, and her rise from intern to a physician, even though it also follows the lives of other main characters.
The show has become the benchmark for medical shows. Still, fans often wonder whether the story of the series comes from the creative imagination of the producers, or whether what is portrayed on the show is actually medically correct. This question is asked especially by people who have an interest in medicine or the medical community, and do not just watch the show for entertainment purposes.
So, is the show actually medically accurate?
Unfortunately Grey’s Anatomy is quite a ways away from being accurate or realistic to what happens in real hospitals. If you carefully watch the way things are done in the fictional Seattle Grace Hospital, the interns in the show will often circumvent physicians in matters concerning a patient's health and will even sometimes do surgeries themselves! People will also often make serious medical mistakes and not get any fallout from those mistakes. Things like this would never happen in any hospital, as this is not at all consistent with the way hospitals operate in real life.
Despite the fact that Grey’s Anatomy is not accurate in many areas there are some things that are pretty close to real life. The writers did a decent amount of research in regards to some of the illnesses portrayed in the show to try and be accurate but the way that the hospital is actually run is far from being right.
If you love the show and are interested in reading some of the reviews about it then you can do this on our site right here.
The Types of Illnesses and Patients Treated at the Hospital
The type of illnesses treated in Grey's Anatomy just help affirm the fact that it doesn’t work at all like a normal hospital. The Seattle Grace Hospital only concentrates on uncommon illnesses, rather than everyday illnesses like infections or flu like most normal hospitals would. Also, the show only seems to focus on young, beautiful women as patients, which is quite unlike a normal hospital where you would find people of both genders and all ages. A normal hospital would normally have more older people than younger as well.
Depiction of the Lives and Responsibility of Residents
Perhaps the most worrying aspect of the show is the depiction of residents. It makes the lives of resident doctors look unrealistically exciting. They are allowed inside the operating room for major cases such as heart surgeries, but this is not consistent with what happens in the real world.
In the real world, resident doctors go through a lot of stress, help nurses, collect consent-to-surgery forms, and discuss things with the families of the patients. It is only in rare instances that they are called into the operating room. In the show, interns have the power to circumvent physicians in matters concerning a patient's health, which is something that would never happen in any hospital, as there is a respect for hierarchy in medical personnel. This hierarchy is not only to make sure the most experienced people get the right cases but also allows the newer doctors to learn under the older/wiser ones.
Furthermore, there is a problem with the allocation of units to surgical residents. The residents are switched from brain surgery to pediatric surgery to plastic surgery at an alarming frequency. In a real-life hospital, residents are allocated to a specific unit for a fixed amount of time. This is done to enable them to gather the relevant experience before they are moved to another unit. In the real world, all residents are not on the same level; there is a hierarchy even among them, but Grey's Anatomy doesn't quite portray it like this
Medical Errors on Grey's Anatomy
It is quite surprising to see the soft punishments given to interns who make serious mistakes on the job. For the same mistake, a resident in a real-life hospital would be disqualified from the residency program.
A good example is when Izzie slashed the wire on Denny's ventricular assist device so that he could get a transplant because she loved him. While this was an empathetic thing to do, it would be against the professional ethics of a real-life hospital, and she would have almost certainly been kicked out of the residency program and sued. But all she got was a warning after which she could carry on her residency.
The show also allows physicians and patients to have romantic relationships. In a real-life hospital, this would never happen as hospitals believe that relationships between patients and staff members or staff members and their co-workers would allow sentiments to creep in and erode professionalism and efficiency.
The most obvious errors in the show are seen inside the surgery room. Even though they would seem insignificant to the viewer who is watching the show for entertainment, medical students and personnel would certainly be startled to see how the surgeons handle intubation. During intubation (which is the introduction of a tube into a hollow organ such as the trachea), the endotracheal tube is not held firm by any tape. This is dangerous because, in real-life hospitals, tape is used to keep the tube from simply sliding from its precise position and causing the patient to die because of the potent sedatives in his or her body. Sedatives deaden the muscles that handle respiration, and tubes help to feed oxygen into the system of the patient. So, if they slide, the patient is starved of oxygen and will quickly die.
Also, during standard surgeries, the tape is used to cover the patient's eyes to avoid bruises to his or her cornea. But in Grey's Anatomy, there is no tape covering the eyes of patients. And the reason we can see this is because the cameras zoom in to show the faces of the patients during surgery. If you are going to zoom in and show the viewers every detail of the surgical process, then you have to do it right, bearing in mind that there are people in the medical profession who will also be watching the show, and be looking for missing details in the show such as these.
We can also see how insensitive Dr. Cristina Yung is when she casually asks a dead patient's wife for his organs a few minutes after he dies so she could give them to another patient who needs a transplant. This is unprofessional, and in a real-life hospital, the doctor would have waited for some time to allow the woman to get over the shock of losing her husband, and only requesting for her husband's organs when she is emotionally stable.
Grey's Anatomy is a great TV show and as a source of entertainment, it is one of the most intriguing shows to ever appear on TV. But it is not so great for medical students and aspiring residents who might be tempted to think that the fictional representation of medicine in the show applies in the real world. They could end up being quite disappointed when what they actually experience is not even close to what the show portrays it to be.
If you are a huge Grey’s Anatomy fan then you will certainly want to own the set on DVD. We have a set of 14 seasons available for $187.99. You can find it by clicking here.