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Bioethics and professionalism in popular television medical dramas
  1. Matthew J Czarny1,
  2. Ruth R Faden2,3,
  3. Jeremy Sugarman2,3,4
  1. 1School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  2. 2Berman Institute of Bioethics, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  3. 3Department of Health Policy and Management, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  4. 4Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jeremy Sugarman, Harvey M Meyerhoff Professor of Bioethics and Medicine, Berman Institute of Bioethics and Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Hampton House 351, 624 N Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA; jsugarm1{at}


Television medical dramas sometimes depict medical professionalism and bioethical issues, but their nature and extent are unclear. The authors systematically analysed the bioethical and professionalism content of one season each of Grey's Anatomy and House M.D., two of the most popular current television medical dramas. The results indicate that these programmes are rife with powerful portrayals of bioethical issues and egregious deviations from the norms of professionalism and contain exemplary depictions of professionalism to a much lesser degree.

  • Bioethics
  • education/programmes
  • general
  • journalism/mass media
  • medical dramas
  • professionalism
  • professional–professional relationship
  • television

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.