Grey’s Anatomy Mishandles Heart Valve Surgery

My wife, Robyn, loves the television show Grey’s Anatomy.

That said, on Thursday nights, after Ethan goes to bed, we enjoy watching the trials-and-tribulations of the fictitious Seattle Grace Hospital.



I will admit, the writers of Grey’s Anatomy do a great job developing likable characters (Meredith, McDreamy, The Chief) that are caught in a perpetual whirlwind of personal, professional and medical drama.

However, I want to gently remind us all that Grey’s Anatomy is, to some extent, written and produced to garner ratings and large advertising budgets.

“Why the heck is Adam posting about Grey’s Anatomy?” you might be wondering.

Well, in a recent episode, one of the stories within the hour-long show was about a female patient, late-40s, who needed… Yes, you guessed it… Heart valve replacement surgery.

While Robyn and I were initially excited to watch this patient story develop, we quickly became disappointed. Instead of depicting an accurate account of heart valve surgery, the writers used the heart valve replacement procedure to conjure drama in the form of comedy and horror.

First, there was the comedy… The writers portrayed the patient as silly as she debated the pros-and-cons of using a mechanical valve replacement, a pig valve replacement and a cow valve replacement.

Then, came the horror… The patient almost died in the operating room due to a personal issue / love triangle amongst three staff surgeons.

I could go on-and-on-and-on about how unrealistic this episode of Grey’s Anatomy was. But, I won’t. (If you like, you can watch the entire episode online and judge for yourself.)

However, I can’t stop thinking about the patients who watched the show and might be thinking, “Yikes! I’m not having surgery after seeing all that craziness!” I mean… Can you imagine if you were scheduled for surgery and happened to be a Grey’s Anatomy fan?

It’s for this reason, that I want to gently remind us of the known fact that Grey’s Anatomy is just a television show. And, when it comes to heart valve surgery… rather unrealistic.

The reality is that heart valve surgery is a medical miracle. Yes, there is some risk. But, for most, the reality is that patients live longer, healthier lives following the procedure.

Keep on tickin!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of

To learn how Adam has helped millions of people with heart valve disease, watch Adam's video, subscribe to his free newsletter, or visit his Facebook, or Twitter pages.

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