Don’t get me wrong, “Grey’s Anatomy” is my favorite show of all time. I’m currently watching it on Netflix, in bed, as I write this blog post. I’ve seen each episode countless times and I actually think I’m in love with Dr. Shepherd, (I’m also willing to have a secret love affair with McSteamy). The show, which aires on ABC, is a hospital-based drama, which takes viewers through the lives of surgical interns on their way to becoming Attendings. Of course, the show is made to entertain, so it doesn’t always give an accurate depiction of medicine or hospital life.
The first inaccuracy I will bring up was realized when Andrew told us on the second day of class that stomach ulcers do not form from stress, they form from a bacteria. In the third season of “Grey’s,” the main character, Meredith, is forced to chose between two men, Finn and Derek. During this episode, (season 3, episode 4), Meredith gets sick from a stomach ulcer due to the stress of choosing between Derek and Finn. However, we all now know that ulcer formation from stress is a myth.
Some like to joke that the death rate is higher for the doctors at Seattle Grace-Mercy West than the patients; so much so that it has been called “Seattle Grace-Mercy Death.” But seriously.. how likely is it that a group of doctors/friends would go through such terrible tragedies during their residencies. First, Meredith has her hand on a bomb inside of a patient, she drowns but later comes back to life after a very dramatic scene, one doctor gets hit by a bus and one has metastatic melanoma. Not to mention the shooting that takes place there, killing what seems like half of the doctors, followed by a devastating plane crash which ends up taking the lives of two of my favorite doctors. As you can see, this has been noticed by more people than just me.
However, after further research, I’ve realized that the show has actually attempted to increase medical awareness over certain issues, and it has been studied. For example, there’s an episode in which an HIV positive women has an internal conflict over whether or not she should abort her baby because she isn’t aware that with the proper medical care, she is highly unlikely to pass on the disease. The medical writers of Grey’s wanted to use the episode to act as a PSA, to spread awareness on the issue– and it worked. Something I found interesting about the study was that one week after watching the episode, people’s opinions and knowledge increased, but then after six weeks, it decreased again. Any readers have an idea of why this would happen? It would of course be better explained in the study but I think it could be due to forgetting the facts.
Something else in the study I found interesting was that younger people and of lower income were more likely to claim that they learned something from the show. I think that this is because they probably don’t have proper medical training so anything learned on the show, true or not, would add to their knowledge of medicine.
Although some of what is on Grey’s Anatomy is for entertainment, the medical issues and jargon are often real and have been shown to increase the knowledge of medicine for some.