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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ writers discuss accuracy of series

    Students from the UA College of Medicine got an up-close look at the medicine involved in the “”Grey’s Anatomy”” television program yesterday.

    The discussion at the Arizona Cancer Center, “”Anatomy of an Episode: How ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Tries to Get the Medicine Right,”” dealt with the relevancy of health issues involved in the show.

    Joan Rater and Tony Phelan, the program’s lead writers and executive producers, fielded questions from the audience and commented on “”Grey’s Anatomy”” footage of medical procedures and events.

    Like many medical shows on primetime television, “”Grey’s Anatomy”” enlists the assistance of several medical experts and advisers to ensure the accuracy of the series.

    “”Everything that happens in the show is at least possible,”” he said. “”We do our best to not put out fake medicine.””

    Toward the beginning of the series, the writers crafted ideas they believed would be entertaining to audiences, regardless of their medical accuracies. The show’s medical advisers would then alter those ideas,

    Rater said.

    As a result, writers now select story lines they know are probably medically accurate, and the advisers search for story lines within familiar health issues, she said.

    “”We strive for possibility, even if it is only a faint possibility,”” Rater said. “”You can always take an idea and tweak it to bring it into the realm of real.””

    One such example is an episode that deals with toxic blood that infects the hospital, Phelan said.

    In the episode, a woman suffering from an internal ailment substitutes her own home remedies for professional medical treatment. The mixture of remedies altered the woman’s blood and made it toxic, he explained.

    After being informed by their advisers of the rare occurrence in an actual medical institution, the writing team decided to explore the idea, Phelan said.

    The producers also have gone so far as to use actual hospital personnel. In several of the operating scenes, the actors playing operating room nurses are, in fact, former operating room nurses.

    Because of the medicine involved in the series, it allows the writers and producers to explore ethical issues they would otherwise be unable to examine.

    “”Lots of times, we use medical ethics as a theme,”” Rater said. “”This lets us put out a lot of public health messages.””

    Secrets of the series were also divulged by the writers, such as the true origins of the body parts and blood seen in operation scenes.

    “”We use a lot of blood and guts from animals,”” Rater said. “”They’re not from actual people.””

    The College of Medicine’s Medical

    Humanities Program organized the event, as part of a program to bring arts and literature to the medical field, said Katie Riley, associate director for the Arizona Health Sciences Center public affairs office.

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