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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best entertainment magazine in the UK“, while medical TV shows are one of the most popular genres, are they getting it right? We checked out research into which medical TV show is most accurate to find out!

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Scalpels at the ready, diagnoses on the tip of their tongues, and hearts forever racing against the clock – medical dramas have captivated audiences for decades. From the heartwarming moments of patient recovery to the adrenaline-pumping emergencies, these shows offer a glimpse into the fast-paced world of medicine. But how realistic is this portrayal? Are we witnessing cutting-edge medical procedures or simply sensationalized entertainment?

To help us out, the compliance and safety experts at Radar Healthcare have sent over a list of the most beloved medical TV shows, and rated them in terms of accuracy.

Which Medical TV Show Is Most Accurate?

1. Scrubs, US – 8/10

Regarding accuracy, Scrubs, created in 2002, has been known to rank very highly. The creator of Scrubs, Bill Lawrence, has revealed that the sitcom was actually based on his cardiologist friend Jon Doris – who inspired the beloved main character J.D. 

Lawrence tweeted in 2020 that the show was based on his ‘best pal from college’, who also, conveniently, acted as a medical advisor to the programme. According to Lawrence, each and every medical scenario is based on a real-life event that Jon Doris experienced, which would explain its accuracy. 

2. Casualty, UK – 7/10

Casualty has been popular in the UK since its launch in 1986, which could have something to do with the fact that its accuracy touches the heart of the nation. The iconic character Charlie Fairhead, one of the show’s most long-standing protagonists, is actually based on a medical professional known as Pete Salt. 

As well as being used for inspiration, Salt has been known to regularly train the Casualty actors during scenes involving medical procedures, allowing them to be as true-to-life as possible. 

The show is also influenced by real-life events, such as the first episode of series 37 in 2022, which highlighted just how much strain the NHS is truly under – especially after the pandemic. 

3. Holby City, UK – 5/10

At the other end of the spectrum, Holby City, which has been running since 1999, has been regularly criticised for being inaccurate. In fact, the Express reported that a 2021 episode received so much backlash, the producers were encouraged to apologise. 

Doctor Jeong-Soo Han, played by Chan Woo Lim, suggested that a patient who was ‘hyperglycaemic’ (instead of hypoglycemic) an infusion of glucose, rather than insulin, which the public pointed out could lead to real-life confusion. 

Fans were quick to point out that hyperglycemia refers to high blood sugar, as well as abnormal levels of glucose in the blood – meaning the patient would have needed insulin instead.

The Daily Star also showcased the fact that organisations like the British Medical Association regularly criticise the show for its misleading depictions of medical procedures, suggesting the writers seem to favour drama and entertainment over facts. 

4. Grey’s Anatomy, US – 3/10

Much like the other shows we have discussed, Grey’s Anatomy, which first aired in 2005, involved medical advisors when writing storylines. However, despite this, the show has regularly been slammed for inaccuracies. 

A Yahoo article that consulted medical professionals revealed that, while the show was influenced by real cases, the lack of detail causes the show to lack realism. 

The same piece showcased the fact that the programme was successful in portraying how medical careers progress, but was very misleading when it came to how long patients remained in hospitals. 

Most patients in the show remain in hospital for under a week, when in reality, most would stay for a lot longer – especially if suffering from the serious illnesses the show often covers.

5. E.R., US – 2/10

Finally, we have the show that helped to launch the career of one of the world’s most notorious heartthrobs: George Clooney. First aired in 1995, the programme was hugely successful from the get-go – drawing in over 30 million viewers per episode during its first six series. 

Despite this, much like with Grey’s Anatomy, the show has been widely condemned for medical inaccuracies. One of the main offenders involved on-show doctors incorrectly positioning the heads of their patients, which could lead to further injury in real-life – especially if their initial injury was spine-related. 

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