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Medical TV Shows: Do Doogie Howser and Dr. House Work Here?

Working at a hospital is exciting.

Scrubs, Grey's Anatomy, Nurse Jackie — are these medical TV shows realistic?
Is there this much drama and romance in a real hospital, or are medical shows like Grey’s Anatomy unrealistic?

Every week, the doctors face their toughest cases yet. Every patient is a medical mystery. Nurses and residents duck into closets for a little time together. And some doctors are only 16.

Or at least, that’s what you’d believe if you relied strictly on medical TV shows.

Facebook Poll: Grey’s Anatomy or Nurse Jackie? 

Medical TV show plots are created to boost ratings, but are they really true-to-life? We asked our Facebook fans to vote for the most realistic show. Their options included:

  • “Doogie Howser, MD”
  • “Grey’s Anatomy”
  • “Nurse Jackie”
  • “Scrubs”
  • “General Hospital”
  • “Nip/Tuck”
  • “ER”
  • “House”

Out of 22 responses on Facebook, “House” was overwhelmingly voted the most realistic, with nine votes.

Scrubs vs. Grey’s Anatomy

Then we changed the question and asked our staff to pick the most over-the-top and unrealistic show, the one with stories that would never happen at a real hospital. The winner? “House,” with 16 out of 67 votes.

So, our staff thought “House” was the most unrealistic, while our Facebook fans thought it was the most realistic.

Among the staff we surveyed, “Scrubs” came in as the second most unrealistic, with 13 votes, and “Grey’s Anatomy” was a close third.

“Nurse Jackie” and “ER” got the fewest votes: two and one, respectively.

We also asked our staff which show represented the best patient care, and they responded:

  1. “ER” (21 votes)
  2. “Scrubs” (16 votes)
  3. “Grey’s Anatomy” (14 votes)

“General Hospital” and “Nip/Tuck” didn’t fare so well here, with one vote each.

The best part of the staff survey was getting to read the comments. Here are some excerpts:

“As a clinical lab scientist, I’ve always thought it quite funny how the laboratory is shown on these shows. “House,” for instance likes to show the actual docs performing tests, which doesn’t usually happen in real life. Also, tests … (that) in reality take days to complete somehow are magically complete in minutes. Another good one was on “Scrubs,” where the lab was actually just this one guy who worked in a room by himself and apparently did all the testing for the entire hospital.”

“From what I have seen of the show “ER,” the lingo that they use and the props appear to be appropriate, especially in the emergency situations. Looks more realistic that the other shows.”

“There is way too much loving in the closets for a real hospital on “Grey’s Anatomy.” They can also do all sorts of surgery with just the surgeon and anesthesiology. Also, why do they always operate in the dark? Every operating room I’ve been in is very bright. At least “ER” portrayed all the craziness that really happens in the real world.”

“‘Scrubs'” may be the least medically accurate, but it is the most realistic representation of the hospital culture and emotions between providers and patients (both the bad and good!).”

What’s your favorite medical TV show? Do you think it’s realistic? Do you watch for the medical mysteries or the drama? Leave a comment and tell us.

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