From Zoanne Clack, M.D., writer of "Deny, Deny, Deny"
Originally posted on 10/16/05
As the doctor/writer on the show, I can really relate to trying to have a real life while going through internship and residency. I did my training in emergency medicine, but I was this close (showing fingers really close together) to going into surgery. At the last minute I decided to do emergency medicine instead which gave me the flexibility to pursue other interests (like, um, writing). I moved out to LA with my good "day job" (and I still work in the ER, too, though mostly at night) and was lucky enough to land my first writing job soon after I made the move.
Grey's Anatomy is actually my second show but this is my first produced episode. I think the most amazing moment on set for me was watching Chandra Wilson humanize Bailey. When she had to call the parents to tell them Jeremiah had died, it brought up memories of the many times I've had to do that myself. It was heart wrenching to watch and I felt like it captured the intensity of the emotions that medicine rigorously trains doctors to shut down. Through the characters on Grey's, real emotional issues and medical cases are explored. In fact, in this episode the case of the gunshot wound to the head was based on a guy I took care of during my residency. In the real case the patient shot himself in the head, but that seemed too morbid for our show, plus we'd already had an episode with a self-inflicted gunshot wound (and how many times do you want to see that?!).
Putting out accurate medical information is a task that we take very seriously. We realize we could be an important source of information for medical and public health issues and see it as our responsibility to make our medicine as accurate as possible. That said, there is a fine line between drama and reality. Drama is king, or maybe queen would be more accurate for our show. We research the medicine very intensely and have outside doctors that we consult but our main focus is the relationships of our main characters and the impact that the cases have on them. As a result, sometimes (but not often, I promise) medical details are sacrificed to highlight dramatic moments.
Bit of trivia for you: Kalpana Vera is the lady with Munchausen's. The translation of her name is "imaginary truth." (Kalpana: Hindi, Vera: Latin)
This blog post was originally posted on greyswriters.com and an archive of the posts can now be found at ABC.com.