Healthy Living

These Doctors and Nurses Reveal What Grey's Anatomy Has Wrong About Medicine

The "Shot-gun" approach doesn't exist. You need a diagnosis before running tests.

The “shot-gun” approach involves running every possible test on a patient. In the series premiere of Grey’s Anatomy, a young woman arrives in the ER suffering from seizures of an unknown origin. The attending surgeon, Dr. Burke, advises his resident, Dr. Bailey, to “shotgun” the patient. The interns are instructed to run “every test in the book,” including a CT scan, complete blood count, basic metabolic panel, and toxicology screen.

The scene was certainly dramatic, but it wasn’t accurate. Doctors try to avoid the shot-gun approach as much as possible. Extraneous testing is wasteful, costly, can confuse the diagnosis, and can cause patients more harm than good. Instead, doctors order specific tests to confirm a suspected diagnosis, which is determined based on the patient’s medical history, exam findings, and statistical probability.

Photo source: ABC