‘Grey’s Anatomy’: The Worst Medical Mistakes In The Show

Who doesn’t love the idea of curling up with a bowl of popcorn, some cheesy nachos, or a warm gooey slice of pizza to watch Grey’s Anatomy? Grey’s Anatomy is the kind of television drama that can make you laugh so hard you pee and cry so hard your eyes hurt in the same episode.

The question is – how would you feel about being a patient at Grey-Sloane Memorial? The answer – probably not so good. The truth of the matter is that along the history of Grey’s Anatomy some of the characters you’ve come to love rarely think twice about a medical decision. While some of these medical decisions make for good television, they would make for a lawsuit and a doctor without a medical license in the real world.


Here’s a closer look at some of the worst medical mistakes in the history of Grey’s Anatomy.

Alex Falls In Love With a Bipolar Patient

Alex Karev crosses a line in Season 3 of Grey’s Anatomy when he falls in love with a pregnant patient referred to for a long time as Jane Doe. Later, Jane Doe becomes known as Ava before her identity is finally revealed as Rebecca. Rebecca/Ava was one of the victims of the ferry boat crash. Alex saved her and they grew very close. He took care of her while she had amnesia and while she had serious injuries. When they fell in love, it became clear – to everyone but Alex – that she had mental issues. Alex thought he could handle the mental issues himself instead of reaching out for professional help. It wasn’t until she tried to kill herself that he finally accepted the fact that she needed help.

Interns Operating On Each Other

While most Grey’s Anatomy fans would agree that no one can replace Christina (Sandra Oh), everyone was willing to give Sadie – Meredith’s college friend – a chance when she came to Seattle Grace as an intern. WetPaintclaims that Sadie and the other surgical interns at the time made a really “boneheaded” mistake when making the decision to practice surgery by performing procedures on each other.

A Sponge Is Left In A Patient

You hear horror stories about doctors leaving sponges and other surgical tools inside of a patient following an operation all the time. For that reason, many fans weren’t surprised when that was inserted into the plot line of Grey’s Anatomy. On Episode 9 of Season 10, Callie gets sued for leaving a sponge inside of Travis Reed, a competitive snowboarder. The sponge causes an infection which causes Travis to get so sick he is unable to compete. More or less the entire episode consists of joining Callie in sitting through a painful trial only for Callie to be found not guilty. Callie appears to be just as surprised as fans watching the show were and she immediately goes back to performing surgeries. That is also the last time you hear about the competitive snowboarder in Grey’s Anatomy. Chances are pretty good that wouldn’t have gone down so smoothly in a real hospital.


Surgery Performed Outside of the OR

Ben Warren gets in a bit of trouble in Season 12 of Grey’s Anatomy when he performs a C-section on a pregnant woman in the hallway. Ben ends up killing both the mother and the baby. In the real world, this would be grounds for dismissal, no more medical license, and maybe even criminal charges. But, at Grey-Sloane Memorial? He didn’t get into too much trouble. In fact, he got into so little trouble that he was comfortable enough to do the exact same thing a second time. To a main character, April, on Meredith’s dining room table!

Nearly Dead Patient

Early on in the series (like the very first season), before you really knew any of the characters, you may remember George almost killing a patient and acquiring the name “007”. For a very long time, the other interns teased George about having “a license to kill.” It is questionable as to whether or not George would have continued practicing medicine in the real world. At the very least, Dr. Burke would have suffered some form of punishment for letting such an inexperienced surgeon perform a procedure he clearly wasn’t ready for.

Cheating To Get a Transplant

This is arguably one of the biggest and most criminal medical mistakes made in the history of Grey’s Anatomy. Izzie made the decision to cut the LVAD wire on her boyfriend, Denny, in order for him to get sicker. That allowed him to move up to a higher spot on the transplant list. In the real world, Izzie would have been fired, stripped of her medical license, and would have likely faced criminal charges as she more or less stole that organ from someone else.

Messing With a Clinical Trial

Who can forget early on in the series when Meredith messed with the Alzheimer’s trial her and Derek (Patrick Dempsey) were running together? It was supposed to be a blind trial, but when Richard’s (James Pickens Jr.) wife Adele was discovered to have Alzheimer’s, Meredith messed with the trial to make sure his wife would get the drug.

There was a period of time during this series of events that many Grey’s Anatomy fans feared it would be the end of Meredith and Derek. The real question is why Meredith was going to get fired for the incident, but Richard got to continue practicing medicine at the hospital when he took the blame for her?


Episode 2 of Season 13 of Grey’s Anatomy titled “Catastrophe and the Cure” will air on Thursday, September 29. Check out the promo for the episode below:

Will you be watching the next episode of Season 13? What do you think was the biggest medical mistake in Grey’s Anatomy history? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

[Featured Image via Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for The People’s Choice Awards]