The long running tv medical drama Grey’s Anatomy is about a surgeon named Meredith Grey, who is the daughter of well-known surgeon Ellis Grey. She struggles to decide if she wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps and pursue general surgery or if she wants to pursue something different. At the start of the show it is also focused on the other first year interns Alex Karev, Izzie Stevens, Christina Yang, and George O’Malley. The show is popular for having major disasters causing the doctors on the show to perform some kind of major life saving surgery. The show also is popular for its personal and professional relations ships between both patients and doctors. When the doctors get into a relationship something always goes wrong whether it be death, separation or someone being taken off of the show. The show tends to show not only the better sides of being a surgical resident but also the hard times. At many points in the show it may make viewers believe something that may not be true but it also teaches the viewers things they don’t know. Greys Anatomy has changed the way people perceive medical professionals and medical issues. This can have both a positive and negative impact on the show.
Grey’s Anatomy is infamous for making the doctors seem just like normal people. They make mistakes, not every patients they care for survives, and they all have personal problems of their own. In “The Effects of Viewing Grey’s Anatomy on Perceptions of Doctors and Patient Satisfaction” Brian Quick says “The portrayal of doctors on television has shifted significantly during the past 60 years” (Quick). The relatability of medical drama tv shows has increased over the past years making the publics opinion of doctors more positive. The show portrays the doctors as being real life humans that struggle with death, happiness, and difficult experiences. The main character, Meredith Grey, is easily related to by the people who watch the show. She is able to do incredible things in her field of work even though she is going through problems of her own. Meredith Grey experiences a lot of death throughout the show. Meredith Grey lost her husband, mom, sister, dad, and friends but she never let that stop her from going and she never gave up. Even though Greys Anatomy is fictional it shows what it is really like to be a surgeon.
The daily life of doctors and the interactions with patients may be misleading when it is seen on the tv. Patient and families may have a misunderstanding of how things work when your admitted into the hospital through the emergency room because of Greys Anatomy. On the show patients come in and are treated with an emergency operation and within a few days if they survived, they are releases to go home and recover. In Rosemarie Serrone’s article “Grey’s Anatomy effect: television portrayal of patients with trauma may cultivate unrealistic patient and family expectations after injury” it says,
“As anyone involved in the care of patients at a regional trauma center knows, real-life patients are often managed non-operatively or with operations (sometimes multiple) performed at an interval to the time of admission, and depending on the burden of injury, often require prolonged hospitalization and have disabilities requiring transfer to long-term inpatient facilities” (Serrone).
The perceptions tv shows give to patients about how things work when your admitted into the hospital is affects the patients satisfaction and how they see the team caring for them.
On the medical drama tv show Grey’s Anatomy the cases they cover are usually more dramatized or serious. The cases that are portrayed on television are less likely to be survived in real life. People believe the survival rate is higher for some of the more serious conditions because of the amount of people who survive them in the tv shows. People are more likely to view major diseases that are the leading cause of death as less important that diseases that are rare. Julie beck says, “Heavy viewers of medical dramas in her study were less likely to rate cardiovascular disease and cancer as important societal issues (when they are, in fact, the top two causes of death in the U.S.)” (Beck). This is because on medical dramas show more of unusual diseases rather than the ones doctors see every day in order to get more views. In the article “Healthcare in the Time of Grey’s Anatomy” by Julie Beck it says, “Patients tend to survive cardiac arrest more often on television than they do in real life, making CPR seem more effective than it often is. “That can lead to a misunderstanding as to the likelihood of a patient or loved one surviving a cardiac arrest,” says Dr. David Brown, chair of the department of emergency medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital” (Beck). Because of this people may be more likely to have faith in doctors when it comes to life saving events like performing CPR or an emergency surgery. This can lead to family members and patients having a false sense of security because in real life the survival rate may not always be as high as it is on the tv shows.
Although the medical tv drama may have inconsistences in some of the procedures they perform, they also teach viewers things they may not have known before. An example of an inconsistency in greys anatomy is in season seven episode ten a patient came in with von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHL). They did an emergency surgery to remove a cyst on the patients pancreas that was in danger of rupturing. Pancreatic cyst are not threatening and do not need to be removed. In the show the doctors make mistakes such as misdiagnosing patients. Hypothetically if Dr. Izzie Stevens had mistaken a women’s heart attack symptoms for heart burn. Throughout the remainder of the episode the people watching are taught through Izzie. It shows the way to catch a heart attack in women. The way medicine is used to spot a heart attack in men and women may not be the same (Thomas). In season four episode thirteen a husband and wife come into to the hospital to get a pregnancy test and they were seen by Dr. Izzie Stevens. When the test came back positive the couple was upset because the mother is HIV positive and doesn’t want the baby to be born with HIV. Izzie does some research and comes back to tell the couple that they have a with the correct treatment the baby could be born healthy. In the article “What we can learn about medicine from watching Grey’s Anatomy” by Carolyn Thomas it says, “the proportion of viewers who were aware that, with the proper treatment, there is more than a 90% chance of an HIV-positive woman having a healthy baby increased by 46 percentage points after the episode aired (from 15% to 61%)” (Thomas). Before this episode aired many people didn’t know this was possible but after it aired the amount of people who were aware of this increased.
Grey’s Anatomy has changed the perception of the publics opinion on real life doctors. The influence from tv show on the public is very strong and can affect how people see medical professional and medical concepts. Overall I think Grey’s Anatomy is a good show and I really enjoy watching it. While I do notice a lot of inconsistencies of what the show portrays, it also has a lot of educational moments that made me realize things I didn’t know before.
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