Grey’s Anatomy Distorts Patient Satisfaction And Expectations

Written by - Reviewed by Consumer Health Digest Team

Published: Mar 22, 2018 | Last Updated: Dec 11, 2018

Greys Anatomy Gives A Wrong Idea Of Trauma

Grey’s Anatomy is one of the most popular shows today. Even after 14 seasons, the show has millions of fans who can’t wait to see the new episode. Grey’s Anatomy is more than a “regular” show to most people, fans are invested in the main protagonist’s life and complicated love lives and relationships of other characters.

Despite its popularity as a medical show, Grey’s Anatomy isn’t really accurate. In fact, it gives the wrong idea of trauma according to the latest study.

Grey’s Anatomy vs. Reality

TV shows aren’t always the best sources of facts and accurate information even in instances when they are based on true events. That said, we always expect medical shows to be reliable and accurate without even realizing it. There always comes the time when you feel pains or aches and immediately think of a Grey’s anatomy scenario.

You may even do that when someone else talks about their health problems. If you look at Facebook comments about health-related subjects, you can notice that many people post something they’ve seen in Grey’s Anatomy thinking it’s true, but it doesn’t have to be.

A group of scientists led by Dr. Jordan Weinberg at the St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona conducted a study whose primary objective was to test how Grey’s Anatomy show compares to reality. For this purpose, they screened 269 episodes of a popular drama that follows the medical career of Dr. Meredith Grey.

At the same time, scientists used comparison data for a genuine patient cohort obtained from the 2012 National Trauma Databank (NTDB) National Program Sample. In total, the show had 290 patients while 4812 were present in NTDB.

Findings from this study were published[1] in the Trauma Surgery and Acute Care Open, and they showed that mortality was higher on TV than it was in reality with a ratio of 22% vs. 7%. While only 25% of patients in “real life” were moved straight from the emergency department (ED) to the operating room (OR) the rate was much higher in the show. In the Grey’s Anatomy, 71% patients were moved directly from ED to OR.

Results also demonstrated that 50% of severely injured survivors on the show spent less than one week in the hospital compared to 20% in the real life. These findings led to a conclusion that Grey’s Anatomy portrays rapid functional recovery after major injury and, thus, cultivates false expectations among patients and their families.

Greys Anatomy

What do these Findings Mean?

Okay, now you’re probably thinking “well, it’s just a show anyway”. True, Grey’s Anatomy is a show that most of us water regularly or we tune in from time to time. Due to the popularity of the show and the manner trauma events are portrayed, patients and families to get a wrong idea about trauma and the way things work in “real” hospitals.

Although the study confirmed[2] we get unrealistic expectations from Grey’s Anatomy it would be wrong to say results are unexpected. Over the 14 seasons (and we can expect more of them to come), Grey’s Anatomy has become well-known for some pretty insane and exciting traumatic cases ranging from patients who accidentally swallowed bombs to people becoming encased in hardening cement, and many others.

To one extent, that’s what we expect from Grey’s Anatomy and other medical shows, but at the same time we except rapid care and recovery in real life too although that’s not how things work.

Read More: 10 Inspirational Tips To Recover Yourself From Mental Traumas


The latest study showed that Grey’s Anatomy sends an unrealistic picture of trauma and it may distort expectations and satisfaction of patients and their families. That said, study authors explained the show got a lot of things right and these findings don’t mean you should stop watching.

The saga of Dr. Meredith Grey is too exciting to ignore, but it is important to differentiate endless possibilities in the show and limits of the real life.

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