You won’t be surprised to learn that televisions medical dramas give people false expectations about real-life emergency care. In a study published in BMJ’s Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open, researchers say that expectations are important in an age when patient satisfaction plays such a key role in health care quality initiatives and performance-related compensation for providers.
For this study, the researchers compared medical trauma sustained by 290 fictional patients over 12 seasons of Grey's Anatomy with injuries sustained by 4,812 patients in the British 2012 National Trauma Databank. Medical dramas often strive for authenticity, but understandably focus on exceptional – rather than mundane – events.
According to the researchers, about half of all fictional patients who suffered serious injuries spent less than a week in the hospital, while 20 percent of actual patients were released after less than a week. Only about 6 percent of survivors of television trauma were transferred to a long-term health care facility, while 22 percent of actual patients required long-term care.