Grey's Anatomy did it again. After a weeks-long hiatus in which they got us all worked up about the possibility of a musical episode (yes, it's coming) and whether fans could even stomach "going Glee," the writers threw out a reminder last night of why the show has fans in the first place:
Real, nitty gritty medical issues delivered in a palatable soap opera-ish way so we don't feel too preached at. Time to stop knocking all those naughty sex romping surgeons. It was the relationships that led the debate last night, as Grey's waded into the murky waters of treating your own kin.
It sounds like a dream come true, doesn't it? To have a doctor in the family, so you have a person who truly cares about you in the room in an emergency? Someone you trust to answer your medical questions? Think again. Because as Grey's showed last night, when it's a doctor in your family treating you, they aren't always thinking like a doctor.
Take Chief Webber. His wife Adele began showing signs of dementia before the show broke for its hiatus. A few weeks later, she's showing increased signs of Alzheimer's, and Webber wants her in the clinical trial run by Derek Shepherd and Meredith Grey. And by wants her in, he wants Derek to break the rules of an FDA-regulated trial just because his wife is in trouble.
Standing on the outside, who could blame him? He's a husband fighting for his wife. But even more to the point, he's the chief of surgery; he KNOWS what this disease will do (he saw it take down his mistress, don't forget). That's the upside to having a medical practitioner in the family. They can be a true advocate because they know how the body works and how a hospital works. A patient who has familial medical advice is an educated patient, and educated patients stand out to doctors. They get the treatment you often need to push for in a busy hospital, and that can be a key in their fight back to health.
But as Derek calmly explained to Webber last night, sneaking someone into a clinical trial isn't something the chief of surgery can do just because it's his wife. There are procedures. "It could get us blacklisted by the FDA," Shepherd reminded him.
The refusal sends Webber spiralling out of control, rushing to do a surgery on a diabetic woman who he thought was a perfect candidate for his own clinical trial ... without FDA approval. He's jazzed about it. High on making a point, spouting off, "Maybe they'll take my license. Maybe they'll blacklist me. I don't care. I just saved a life ... I just did a surgery I wasn't approved to do. I did it because I knew I didn't have time to wait." And then Derek dropped the bomb: Adele has a chance to get into the trial legally. A patient dropped out. There's no sneaking her in.
And there's the downside. A doctor in the family isn't infallible. They can't fix everything, and they will let feelings cloud their judgment.
Making it even clearer how difficult it is to separate the doctor from the relative, Grey's shows that Webber sees in his own surgeons what he can't see in himself.
He refuses to let Teddy Altman, the doctor who married a random sick guy to give him health insurance, operate on her husband. Because despite their faux marriage, there's something more than a doctor/patient relationship. When she starts screaming at Dr. Yang in the operating room as her "husband" starts coding, she turns into the same person Webber was with Adele.
Ever wondered why you can't stay at your loved one's side at all moments when they're a patient? That's why. Because even a doctor couldn't keep her emotions under control when the going got tough.
Would you prefer a doctor in the family? Would you let them treat you?
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