The Worst Medical Mistakes On Grey’s Anatomy

The Grey’s Anatomy Hangover Cure We all know Meredith Grey is an alcoholic by the way she seems to consume booze quite often. Therefore, when she… Joe Burgett - July 26, 2023
Meredith Grey Shows Up To Work Hungover
[Image via the American Broadcasting Company]

The Grey’s Anatomy Hangover Cure

We all know Meredith Grey is an alcoholic by the way she seems to consume booze quite often. Therefore, when she showed up to work hungover in Episode Six of Season Two, this was a huge problem. She was ready to go into surgery or see patients, but she was caught before that and put into a room with a “banana bag.” This is a yellow IV drip with fluid that is filled with vitamins and electrolytes. While this would potentially be helpful to people, it does not treat a hangover in any way. Of course, there are many “hangover cures” that people swear by.

Meredith Grey Given Banana Bag
[Image via the American Broadcasting Company]

However, the only real “cure” that we’re certain of is simply waiting for it to pass. It is best to drink a lot of water and only water, if at all possible. Some even claim having foods like steak, eggs, etc. can be helpful. It is thought that food can be somewhat helpful, but the exact food is suspect really. The best thing Dr. Grey could have done here was stay home. Showing up to work drunk or hungover is sometimes an instantly firable offense, depending on the hospital. Other times, it could be a suspension if nothing else. Grey was just given an IV bag and eventually went back to work.

Man Experiencing A Seizure
[Image via DC Studio/]

Restraining Patients When They’re Seizing

Seizures can be problematic, especially when they take place inside a hospital. Often, a seizure can occur due to a medication or treatment issue along with a potential accident that takes place. Since seizures are not unheard of during things like operations, there are sometimes restraints put on patients that are the most likely to do something like this. People can even have a seizure during a coma, particularly in cases of medical comas. In fact, studies have been done on this to prove how often this can occur. Most assume that you’ll be put into a medical coma after things like a traumatic brain injury or TBI only.

Man Laid On His Side While Having Seizure
[Image via Lisa-S/]

This is not exactly true. While yes, you can be for stuff like this, there are many other reasons to do it too. Yet 10 to 20% of those who are in the intensive care unit (ICU) after things like cardiac arrests or resuscitation have seizures or show signs of brain activity indicating this. Due to the massive amount of seizures a hospital sees, one would assume doctors on Grey’s Anatomy would know how to handle them. Rather, they have been known to hold and restrain everyone who is going into a seizure for several reasons. The best action to take is to turn someone on their side and put a pillow (or arm) underneath their head, yet there are even better ways to do this in a hospital!!

Not Speaking To Patient In Private
[Image via the American Broadcasting Company]

Private Conversations With Patients Or Family Members Happening In The Waiting Room

To be fair to Grey’s Anatomy writers, they are nowhere close to the only medical show (or those who have had medical episodes) that have made this mistake. For a long time, there was a huge issue where confidential information about patients was being revealed like it was nothing. People could overhear conversations, and medical information that should be private wasn’t truly private. Along came the new HIPAA laws that changed how we did this forever. While HIPAA went into place in 1996, nothing was heavily enforced until between 2003 to 2005. This is pretty big because Grey’s Anatomy, a medical show, would have been well aware of this new policy.

Speaking To Patient In Waiting Area
[Image via the American Broadcasting Company]

Plus, the show started around this point. If nothing else, it would be extremely helpful for storylines in the future to be aware of this. The new rules required doctors to shut the door when in a room with patients, especially during exams. Medical information could only be revealed to those you allowed. When family members were being informed about someone, they’d either be put into a private room with several others or brought into a counseling room. Yet this show constantly informs patients or family members about things in the middle of a hospital, waiting rooms, etc. Which is against hospital policies nationwide.

Doctor About To Use Defibrillating Shock Paddles
[Image via Wavebreakmedia/]

Shocking Flatlined Patients

It is a popular trope on medical shows, isn’t it? When a person’s heart stops beating, we clearly need to do something. It’s time to bring out the paddles or grab the nearest AED. This patient cannot die on us, we won’t let them. The heart isn’t beating, shock them more and more and more!! Oh wait, that’s not how medical science tells us to do things at all. Why? Because that is not how defibrillation works. We usually only use any form of shock or defibrillation when we’re trying to get a heart back to its correct heart rhythm. Fibrillation, or usually, in this case, atrial fibrillation, is one reason medical professionals will use these things.

AED Machine
[Image via Narin Phapnam/]

This is an issue where the heart’s upper chambers (or the atria) are beating irregularly, often in a chaotic form. They will be out of sync with the lower chambers, also known as the ventricles. That can be an issue where one needs to get their heart rhythm back on track. A-fib will cause fast, pounding heartbeats, shortness of breath, and even weakness. When one goes into cardiac arrest, a similar issue happens. The most common reason for cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation, which is similar to the atrial version. The ventricles can also stop working suddenly too. This type of thing might also occur during drowning situations too. That is why we administer CPR and obviously why we use a defibrillator. They are not used for every single purpose imaginable.

Grey's Anatomy - Intern Stitching
[Image via the American Broadcasting Company]

The Oddest On The Job Training Ever

There is perhaps one of the dumbest scenes ever shown on any medical show in Season 5 of Grey’s Anatomy. Interns or residents at hospitals are there to learn from senior staff members. However, they have all finished at least most of medical school before they were allowed to even put in for an internship or residency at a hospital. During one scene that took place in Season 5, George O’Malley walks in to see something insane. The interns are practicing surgery, but not on some sort of dummy or even a cadaver. They are practicing on, well, each other. The interns were cutting themselves and then practicing stitching up the other interns.

Stitch Practice
[Image via Yupin Li/]

Sure, this is not considered medical malpractice. Particularly considering they were all consenting adults. However, this could be a huge problem and would have either led to a suspension of some kind or immediate dismissal. More importantly, it makes no sense at all. In medical school, you learn how to stitch people up by using dummies and cadavers as well as pig skin. Considering pig skin is essentially as thick as our own. More than this, they would have likely had numerous times in the hospital to perfect their stitching as several patients need this done per day. There are also much less dangerous ways to practice too.

Dr. Callie in Court
[Image via the American Broadcasting Company]

A Sponge, Callie? Really?

Dr. Callie Torres, on the show, is considered one of the best orthopedic surgeons in the country. She was even the Head of Orthopedic Surgery at one point. Yet she made an insane call. Perhaps one of the most discussed incidents in the history of Grey’s Anatomy surrounds this move in Season 10. In the backdrop of the show, we’re told a well-known snowboarder named Travis Reed is in need of a hip replacement. While this would be pretty easy, Reed asks if Callie can do a “Smith-Peterson Resurfacing Hip Joint” instead. Apparently, his friend had this done and was back to boarding quickly.

Grey's Anatomy - Travis Reed
[Image via the American Broadcasting Company]

While nervous to do this, since she never had before, she agreed. During the surgery, however, Travis became unstable. That required Callie to close things up quicker than normal. She knew she left a sponge behind inside his body as it could not be located quickly. They did an X-Ray to find it but Reed ended up with an infection. Multiple issues occurred from clots to murmurs and Reed’s leg had to be amputated. He rightly sued over this, and in almost every single case of something similar like this occurring, the patient won. Not only was Callie not found liable for anything, she was not reprimanded by the hospital at all either.

3D Printer Making Artificial Heart
[Image via Guteksk7/]

Casually Printing Out 3D Organs

People are often surprised to learn that things like this are incredibly rare. Yet Grey’s Anatomy has acted like this sort of thing is commonplace. It is due to this show (among others) that people come to doctors with unrealistic expectations. Doctors have come out against one huge issue this show has been causing. Which is the idea that one can just print off 3D organs. This happened after Dr. Meredith Grey attempted to print a newborn baby a 3D heart. Just so you’re aware, this wasn’t a thing we could really do. Especially not with any sort of high accuracy. Plus, it would have made more sense to use specific parts from a cow or even a pig to help in cases like this. After this episode aired, some went to their doctors asking for a 3D liver, kidney, and other organs.

3D Printed Heart
[Image via Scharfsinn/]

We cannot do this. It is true that we have prosthetic limbs and have used 3D printers to make some of those products, that is very different from internal organs. We have never been able to copy and create a fully functioning organ. The issue here too is that Grey’s Anatomy producers aren’t helping things. They claim their show is helping people diagnose themselves, their kids, their friends, etc. Thus resulting in pushing their doctors on certain things. The problem here is that those without proper medical training do not really understand how to diagnose themselves beyond the average stuff. Therefore, people are asking for things they do not need and we’re creating a culture of Hypochondriacs and Munchausen syndrome/Munchausen syndrome by proxy cases.

First-Year Resident George O'Malley Doing Appendectomy
[Image via the American Broadcasting Company]

First-Year Resident Is Doing What?!?

While Dr. George O’Malley came a long way from his initial point on the show, we cannot ignore that this hospital allowed something horrific. During one episode in the first season of the show, Dr. O’Malley was chosen to perform an appendectomy. Keep in mind, he was a first-year resident at the hospital. There are several seasoned surgeons who would be scared to death about performing this surgery. Appendectomies are usually emergency surgeries, due to a bout of appendicitis. The appendix is part of the gastrointestinal system, connected to the large intestine. It is responsible for providing good bacteria to the body.

Appendix Organ - Inflamed
[Image via Ilya Lukichev/]

When you get appendicitis, the organ becomes swollen, sore, and often diseased. By this point, it is usually filled with mucus, stool, and parasites. Removing this organ can be tricky due to where it’s located, and how careful you need to be. Only seasoned surgeons would ever be allowed to do this. While first-year residents are sometimes allowed to assist and observe this type of surgery, they do not perform it themselves. It is simply too risky for hospitals to allow this because things could easily go wrong with someone of this experience level. Again, this is classified as an emergency surgery, which most residents alone wouldn’t do. Much less a first-year resident. They’re usually observing and learning how to take care of patients at this stage.

Grey's Anatomy - Bubble Boy
[Image via the American Broadcasting Company]

Super Secret Procedures

Season 10 of Grey’s Anatomy was filled with controversial medical moves. In the final episodes of that season, Dr. Miranda Bailey is treating a patient with a terrible immune system disease. It is so bad, he has to live his life in a bubble. Dr. Bailey decides to do an experimental procedure to help him, and it works. He’s able to leave the hospital and get well incredibly fast. There is only one problem though. The person she did this to was a minor and she did not have the consent of his parents to perform it. As a result of this, the parents are outraged that she’d do anything like this without their consent.

Grey's Anatomy - Miranda Preps For Surgery
[Image via the American Broadcasting Company]

They’re just about to press charges against her and the hospital over it until Resident Stephanie steps in to calm things down. However, we won’t allow Miranda to get away from this as easily as the parents did. In real life, Dr. Bailey would have been fired from the hospital on the spot for this move. To top it off, her medical license would have been likely revoked for good. What is so odd here is that Stephanie was actually suspended for a week while Miranda (WHO PERFORMED THE DANG SURGERY) did not receive any punishment from the hospital over this.

Doctor with Patient
[Image via Richard Cartwright/ABC]

Doctors Literally Doing Everything

Have you ever found it odd that medical shows love to have doctors doing pretty much everything? They’ll give shots/injections, take blood/then test said blood, counsel the patient, etc. You name it, these doctors are all over it. In some cases, you wonder if there is literally any nurse in the hospital to assist them. This is something so many people do not seem to understand. When you go to a hospital, if you’re in the Emergency Room or if you’re needing to stay for any reason, nurses are going to be the ones taking care of you. They will be the ones taking blood and sometimes running tests (depending on the situation). Sometimes there will be a room filled with doctors, even when it’s not necessary.

Patient With Room Full Of Doctors
[Image via the American Broadcasting Company]

They are also going to be the first people on the spot to give you any medications, injections, and help in times of crisis. Doctors, in these cases, pretty much do nothing compared to your average nurse. There is a reason hospitals have so many nurses while they have only a select number of doctors. On top of this, if a nurse is not running blood tests, they are sending it off to labs where specialists are handling that. While some doctors do perform surgeries, it is not at the rate we see in medical shows. More than that, Grey’s Anatomy is about surgeons and they are treating them like regular doctors most of the time. On top of the fact that they give them cases that have nothing to do with their specialties.

Grey's Anatomy Surgery
[Image via the American Broadcasting Company]

The Surgical Errors On Grey’s Anatomy Are Insane

On the show, we’re told that the hospital holds a very high rating as one of the top surgical and teaching hospitals. However, if this were a real-life hospital and everyone on the show were real… this hospital might have closed its doors by now. The number of lawsuits and medical licenses being revoked would be too much for them. We already highlighted Callie’s sponge drama. However, they have made many more errors too. For example, Preston Burke left a dang towel inside someone. They have also shown that they can make errors that most medical students wouldn’t make. Much less, would any surgeon make some of the blunders they have.

Surgeons Not Wearing Eye Protection
[Image via the American Broadcasting Company]

We referenced scrub-in issues, but they have also had doctors and often nurses work without gloves on even in times when this sort of thing would make sense. Sure, doctors should not be taking blood or injecting patients, but they’ve often done this without gloves on. Surgeons have even operated on the show without eye protection gear on quite often. Eyewear is not the most fashionable thing, but if blood starts to spurt out, you will be glad you have them on. Even something as simple as not understanding the protected airway for patients under anesthesia is mistaken repeatedly. This would never be a teaching school, if it was, people would die!

Where Do We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:

United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA)

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

UK National Health System (NHS)

Johns Hopkins University Hospital

St. George’s University School of Medicine

University of Twente

Association of Surgical Technologists

Children’s Hospital Association

Mayo Clinic

Red Cross

New York Times