Dissecting 'Grey's Anatomy'

By Scott LaFee

March 21, 2018 5 min read

The popular TV show Grey's Anatomy is often extolled by its fans as a realistic (if dramatized) look at life and death in the emergency room. So a group of doctors at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Arizona decided to see just how accurately the show depicted real life and real medical emergencies and conditions.

They watched 269 episodes, comparing the fictional tales of 290 TV patients with a sample of 4,812 patients from the National Trauma Databank.

Their first finding: The TV world is a lot more deadly. The death rate among fictional ER patients was three times higher than it is in real life. On the other hand, TV trauma patients seem to heal faster, with just 6 percent transferred to long-term medical care compared to 22 percent of actual patients.

In TV land, it seems, trauma patients have surgery and then go home — unless they die. In both cases, it all happens pretty quickly — 60 minutes or less.

Body of Knowledge

In one hour, you typically shed roughly 600,000 particles of skin. Over the course of a year, those particles add up to about 1 1/2 pounds, about the same weight as an iPad.

Life in Big Macs

One hour of water aerobics burns 272 calories (based on a 150-pound person) or the equivalent of almost half of a Big Mac, one entire grande Starbucks caffe latte or 3 1/2 glasses of wine — none of which you should consume just prior to entering the pool.


1 in 22: Odds that a newborn in Pakistan will die within the first month of life, the highest newborn mortality rate in the world. It's 50 times higher than the rate in Japan (1 in 1,111), where infants have the best odds

1 in 270: Odds in the United States, tied with Serbia for 143 best among 184 countries

Source: UNICEF

Doc Talk

Cellulitis: A bacterial infection involving the inner layers of skin, typically resulting in a rash. Not to be confused with cellulite, which is the dimpling of skin caused by a combination of factors ranging from hormones to heredity. Cellulitis is relatively common. Cellulite even more so: It's estimated 85 to 98 percent of women after pubescence develop the condition to some extent.

Phobia of the Week

Geniophobia: Fear of chins

Never Say Diet

The Major League Eating record for beef tongue is 3 pounds, 3 ounces in 12 minutes, held by Dominic Cardo. Whether Mr. Cardo was able to hold his tongue is not known.

Best Medicine

A painter got a call from a gallery showing his work. The gallery owner said, "I've got good news and bad news. The good news is a man came in and asked if your work was the kind that would increase in value after the artist's death. I said yes, and he bought all 15 paintings. The bad news is the man was your doctor."

Hypochondriac's Guide

Blue Rubber Bleb Nevus Syndrome is a condition in which persons suffer from extremely painful, constantly bleeding lesions inside and outside of the body.


"The body is a sacred garment."

—American dancer and choreographer Martha Graham (1894-1991)

Medical History

This week in 1877, Louis Pasteur began studying the virulent anthrax bacteria in his laboratory at Lille, France, spurred by a devastating outbreak of the disease, fatal to cattle and sheep. Robert Koch had already identified the anthrax bacterium and Pasteur showed it was the cause of the disease. He began working on a vaccine and tested it four years later. Inoculated cows and sheep survived; an untreated control group died. A few years later, Pasteur would produce an effective rabies vaccine for people.

Med School

Q: What's the best, easiest thing to drink for an upset stomach?

A: Not an ice-cold soda. The carbonation is likely to exacerbate intestinal distress since the gases expand the stomach (until you burp, which may provide a sense of relief). Coldness slows metabolic activity. Think gut freeze. Most doctors advise a warm, flat beverage — perhaps ginger ale since ginger has been shown to relax the intestinal tract and relieve nausea.

Curtain Calls

In 620 BC, the Athenian lawmaker Draco was smothered to death by gifts of cloaks and hats showered upon him by appreciative citizens at a theatre.

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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