Medical TV shows help to facilitate ethics discussions in the classroom

Just how unrealistic are medical shows like ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" and Fox's "House"? According to a study in April's Journal of Medical Ethics, extremely. "Researchers analyzed 50 episodes of the two programs and found that bioethical issues came up 179 times, with informed-consent discussions the most common," an article in American Medical News said. "Of 49 consent talks, the study said, 57 percent were inadequate--rushed, one-sided and lacking information about the down side of risky procedures." Still, the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University has started a project that consists of compiling clips from both shows as a way to spark ethical discussions in middle-school, high-school and college classrooms. "We want to see if there is a way to use the material they're already producing in a way that's useful to teachers," said Ruth Faden, PhD, MPH, the study's co-author and director of the Berman Institute. Article