Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Grey's Anatomy School of Medicine

I normally don't watch medical dreck on TV. But recently there was an episode of Grey's Anatomy that featured a patient with surgical recall. What brought this to my attention was a patient over the weekend who was extremely anxious about his surgery. After I introduced myself in preop the first thing he asked me was what I am going to do to prevent him from remembering his surgery. I asked him why he was so apprehensive about recall. He said he was watching Grey's Anatomy which showed a patient who remembered his whole surgery but was unable to call for help. Then our preop nurse helpfully chimed in and said she saw it on TV too. Sigh.

I tried to explain to the patient that the reason TV shows like to use surgical recall as a plot line is because it is such a rare occurrence. That's why it is so sensational (in a yellow journalism way) if it does happen. The patient then said he had Googled surgical recall and cited multiple reports. I asked him if he believed everything he read on the internet. He said yes. Uh huh. He also saw an episode on the Discovery Channel that highlighted recall. Again the preop nurse said she saw that too. Grrr. Again I tried to reassure the patient that surgical recall is extremely rare and we use BIS monitors to help decrease the incidence of recall. This finally relaxed the patient. He had read about BIS on the internet and wanted to make sure we use it in our operating rooms.

This goes to show the power of popular entertainment. People actually think they are getting a medical education from watching shows like Grey's Anatomy, House, ER, CSI, etc... The ASA was aware that this episode of G.A. was going to air and wrote a letter to the producers of the show. They were soundly ignored and the show aired anyway. I don't have time to watch shows like this. After going through medical school I can't watch medical shows anymore. I used to like M*A*S*H or St. Elsewhere but now all I see are flaws in their medical presentation and it ruins the whole experience. As an example there was an episode of M*A*S*H where they were in the OR. The surgeon goes over to the wall to look at an X-ray hanging on the light box. If you didn't know better it looked like a normal chest film. But it was very clear the film had the prominent breast shadows of a female patient; I don't think they allowed women in combat during the Korean War.

I'll admit I have not seen this episode of Grey's Anatomy, or any episodes for that matter. I normally try not to criticize something I haven't personally seen or heard. I'll try to catch it on Hulu if I have a chance, after catching up on my American Idol.

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