Grey’s Anatomy is a popular medical TV drama that focuses on the lives and careers of young doctors and medical professionals and centers around the fictional Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital in Seattle, Washington. Being a hospital drama, there are many stories involving pregnancy, based around staff and patients.
As one of the most successful shows in ABC’s history, and currently, in its fifteen season, it has a duty to get its stories right. Where pregnancy is involved, the show depicts the more dramatic elements of childbearing and delivery, as befits a highly rated show. However, some of these story lines are not only almost beyond belief but medically inaccurate. There are fan sites that show the errors in the show and highlights situations that would never happen in a real hospital.
Grey’s Anatomy deals with difficult situations and is able to showcase dilemmas that women may face and can learn about from the TV show. There appears to be nothing like a normal pregnancy and delivery on the show though. Not only does the show deal with teenage pregnancy and women who are facing life-changing decisions while expecting, but there is also even a case of a man who believes he is pregnant.
20 Got Right: Young People Get Pregnant In Real Life
Grey’s Anatomy brings to our attention the all too common problem of teenage pregnancy. Fourteen-year-old Jenny comes to the emergency room with abdominal pain and once she shows her stomach it becomes clear that she is pregnant and this diagnosis is confirmed, reports The Federalist.
The show highlighted the moral issues that are involved when doctors know a child is pregnant yet has to protect her confidentiality.
When Jenny’s mom turns up at the hospital, Jenny begs the doctors not to reveal her condition and they are forced to agree. Jenny refuses surgery because her mom might find out about the pregnancy, which shows the fear and stigma that teenagers face when they become pregnant.
19 Got Wrong: Meredith Couldn't Debunk Her Pregnancy Symptoms
When Meredith becomes pregnant, she is understandably nervous about protecting her baby.
However, as a trained doctor, it would be realistic to assume that she understood the basics of her condition and could diagnose what was problematic and what was normal.
When she encounters some fluttering in her stomach, she becomes convinced that something is wrong and confides her fears to a colleague, Bailey. Although it may be difficult to self-diagnose something that has never been experienced, it seems a little far-fetched to believe that a doctor would not have studied pregnancy to the extent that they would know that a fluttering is a common sign of the unborn baby moving.
18 Got Right: Flings Result In Pregnancy Even If The Relationship Ends
When Owen rang Teddy to say that he was still in love with her, it led to an encounter that resulted in a pregnancy. However, Teddy decided not to get back together with Owen, as she felt he was still in love with Amelia.
Teddy came back from Germany to the hospital in Seattle, and the fact that she asked for a job there, suggested she wanted to be close to her baby’s father, Owen. He is desperate to be a father and has lost relationships over this desire, according to Romper. Grey’s Anatomy highlights the issues that develop when a couple who isn't together gets pregnant, and the complications that arise as a result.
17 Got Wrong: Pregnant Man
One episode deals with a man who has what is medically termed a ‘hysterical pregnancy.’ He has been released from the psych ward but is convinced he is actually pregnant. He needs to use the washroom frequently and has a large belly, and his head is convincing him that he will bear a child.
Despite the assumption of the medical staff that the man is clearly deluded, he presents a positive pregnancy test that has to be investigated.
Photographs are taken of the ‘pregnant man’ until it is revealed that he has a mass of cells in his abdomen that has been growing, hence the swelling in his belly. The mass is removed in the operating theatre, watched by a gallery of spectators.
16 Got Right: This Syndrome Is More Common Than Most People Think
Ehlers-Danlos is a connective tissue condition that can be very debilitating. Symptoms include dehydration and frequent joint dislocations and victims are often assumed to be addicts until they are properly diagnosed, reveals The Mighty. Grey’s Anatomy decided to highlight this rare condition in 2016.
Patient Liz came to the emergency room with back pain. She was 23 weeks pregnant and the EDS led her into premature labor. Women with EDS often have complications in pregnancy and many people deliver early.
15 Got Wrong: C-Section In The Hallway Using a Code Cart
During one episode, the hospital is experiencing a total lock down due to a young boy running off after being scared before a tonsillectomy. As access around the hospital is restricted, a problem arises when a pregnant woman is being transported between wards.
She crashes on the trolley, and doctors are forced to perform an emergency C-section where they are and successfully deliver the baby.
However unlikely this situation may seem, it could feasibly happen. However, the surgeon pulls a nearby code cart to help him perform the surgery, but factually this is impossible as a code cart does not habitually carry surgical instruments.
14 Got Right: Women Have Babies In Prison And It’s Hard
One Grey’s Anatomy episode in 2017 showed the harrowing story of Kristen, a 16-year-old pregnant inmate whose baby had a tumor. The episode showed the harsh environment and treatment of a woman having a baby while incarcerated, reminded Refinery29.
Kristen had not been getting proper prenatal care, so she was extremely nervous and wary when the doctors from Grey’s wanted to examine her.
Another unpleasant reality was the fact that Kristen was shackled at hand and ankle during labor, which seemed a little unnecessary. Reform campaigners were pleased that the problems had been highlighted, and hopefully, some improvements can make labor and birth a little more dignified for women prisoners.
13 Got Wrong: Lexie Doing a Pregnancy Test In The Evening
Lexie and Mark have a tumultuous on-off relationship in the program. They are experiencing one of their ‘on’ phases, with Lexie staying at Mark’s flat regularly and the couple is having one-on-one time. However, Lexie finds herself confused and incredulous when she starts to feel ill in the morning and craves unusual foods.
She decides to take a pregnancy test to see if her suspicions are confirmed. Women who have taken home pregnancy tests will know that the directions state the hormone that confirms pregnancy and is present in urine, is at its strongest first thing in the morning. Women are therefore recommended to take a test first thing after waking up. Lexie, despite her medical background, opts to take the test in the evening.
12 Got Right: The Heartbreak Of Losing The Baby
Dr. Christina Yang became pregnant after an encounter with a fellow doctor, Preston Burke. She decided that she did not want the baby, but nature intervened. She was performing surgery in the hospital with Dr. Burke, when she collapsed with abdominal pain, confirmed Greys Anatomy.wikia.
The cause of this pain turned out to be a ruptured fallopian tube from an ectopic pregnancy. Luckily, she was quickly operated on but of course, lost the baby. This uncommon condition affects a small percentage of women but can be devastating as it can make getting pregnant afterward more troublesome.
11 Got Wrong: Is Meredith's Delivery Too Unlucky To Be True?
When Meredith goes into labor, any regular fans of Grey’s Anatomy could have predicted that it would not go smoothly. Firstly, she continues to perform surgery despite a very advanced pregnancy and is forced to leave due to risks of explosions.
Of course, the labor has complications and a C-section is needed. However, just at that moment, the lights in the hospital fail and the backup generators fail.
Unlikely as this is, the surgery then goes ahead in the dark and the baby is delivered. It doesn’t end there. Meredith bleeds due to an earlier fall and manages to explain how to stem a bleed from the spleen, just before losing consciousness. It surely pushes the boundaries of imagination, never mind reality.
10 Got Right: The Realities Of Abdominal Pregnancy
ABC reminds us that an abdominal pregnancy is when a baby forms outside the uterus and develops in the abdominal cavity. Something obstructs the passage of the egg to the uterus and this leads the fetus to develop somewhere else, which was the case for Lebo.
Symptoms of an abdominal pregnancy include abdominal pain. However, it can be hard to diagnose and if the pregnancy causes a rupture and a woman is not treated in time it can lead to complications. Luckily, Lebo collapses from her condition in the hospital and so is able to be treated quickly. It is hard for an abdominal pregnancy to lead to a live birth.
9 Got Wrong: Jackson Suing April For Custody Of Their Unborn Baby
When April becomes pregnant with Jackson’s baby, the two do not get along well, and the pregnancy does not smooth over the issues in their relationship. However, a colleague informs Jackson that she has some compromising information on April, which could give Jackson enough leverage to sue April for custody of the unborn baby.
While it seems far-fetched to sue for custody of an unborn baby between two ex-partners, no doubt it happens in rare cases. However, what is portrayed on the show is a situation where there is not adequate communication between the pair, and someone comes in with a drastic solution that seems far too complicated to consider.
8 Got Right: Having a Baby Doesn’t Fix A Relationship
April had a devastating experience with a previous pregnancy, so must have felt nervous about the pregnancy that resulted from an encounter with Jackson. She doesn’t want to tell him about the baby, no doubt nervous that something will go wrong, and when colleague Arizona tries to convince her to get tests on the fetus, she declines, reports Hollywood Life.
April and Jackson are going through a divorce at the time April finds out she is pregnant and despite wanting to fight for the marriage, her husband doesn’t agree. This highlights the troubles that can occur for couples when the relationship is in turmoil and a baby is on the way. A baby is more likely to expose problems rather than solve them.
7 Got Wrong: There Are Far Too Many Dramatic Moments
Of course, Grey’s Anatomy is a TV show and drama makes good viewing. However, this is a show that depicts a hospital and most hospitals do not encounter the level of disasters, catastrophes and rare cases on such a regular basis.
For instance, one character, Arizona, survives a plane crash and then a car crash and then suffers the trauma of losing a baby. Add into the mix a live bazooka being found in a patient and threatening the hospital’s safety and it seems that Grey Sloan Memorial is an abnormally risky place to be.
6 Got Right: Pregnancy Plus A Serious Illness Is Complicated
Cancer patient Veronica chances upon a doctor when she makes a routine visit to the local courthouse. He spots a rash on her hand and implores her to get it checked out. The tests reveal she has stage four terminal pancreatic cancer and needs chemo and radiotherapy in order to survive for a maximum of a year.
Veronica is reluctant to risk the life of her 16-week old fetus. The doctor who Veronica met at the courthouse suggests an alternative procedure that might save the baby, and this throws light on the trauma that women face when they are diagnosed with an illness while pregnant.
5 Got Wrong: Dramatic Water Breaking
In season 2, Bailey goes into labor at the hospital. Television and film often depict a dramatic breaking of amniotic fluid, with a rush of water leaking onto the floor. This is the case with Bailey’s waters breaking, although it was noted by eagle-eyed fans that when Bailey is taken away to the delivery suite, her jeans are completely dry despite the puddle of water on the floor!
It is very rare for a woman’s waters to break in this dramatic fashion. Labor is often quite far advanced before they break for most women. TV likes to depict the drama of the rarer version of this experience, however, and Grey’s Anatomy is no exception.
4 Got Right: Unwanted Pregnancy Is A Real Dilemma
Grey’s Anatomy has brought to the surface the issue of women who face an unwanted pregnancy. When Christina finds out she is pregnant with Owen’s baby, she decides she doesn't want it, even though he does. Whatever the reasons for a woman to choose to not keep a baby, it remains her body and her choice.
Christina faces uncertainty over her decision to end the pregnancy and doesn’t go for the first appointment. This points out the absolute dilemma that a woman faces when she decides to end a pregnancy and the reality hits. The complexities of such a decision are varied and this story line reiterates this.
3 Got Wrong: The Ill Patient And Her Unborn Baby
The story of the patient who is 16-weeks pregnant and diagnosed with terminal cancer presents doctors and patient with a difficult dilemma. If she has treatment for cancer, which might extend her life for a year, the baby will be lost. If she has no treatment she could lose her life before the baby is viable.
This option is presented as the preferable option. It seems unlikely that the situation would be dealt with in this way, without more care and attention given to the grief that the mother-to-be must have been under. To present two such stark options would surely not happen in a real hospital.
2 Got Right: The Heartbreak Of Struggling To Have a Child
Derek and Meredith had tried for a child and lost the baby when Meredith did become pregnant. She struggled to get pregnant after this and underwent treatment to help, but this had the side effect of making her temporarily blind, reminds Psychology Today.
This storyline reminds us of the tremendous lengths that prospective parents will go to in order to have the longed-for child. It also reminds us how heartbreaking it is for women to long for a baby and watch those around her becoming pregnant and bearing children successfully. It also highlights the difficulties as Meredith keeps her struggle secret and tries to find suitable places to inject hormones while at work.
1 Got Wrong: It Doesn’t Depict Real Life
One episode featured a case of TRAP, where the blood flow is reversed between the twins and causes issues with one twin. This condition is so rare that some nurses had never heard of it, so it seems like an odd focus for a storyline.
Eagle-eyed fans spotted that Meredith appears to be pregnant for over three years if the time lapses between series are taken literally! Surely, there can be no place so unlucky in the entire medical system as Grey Sloan.