Grey’s Anatomy in Real Life: Would Meredith Have Been Able to Tamper With the Alzheimer’s Trial?
Obviously, Grey's Anatomy tweaks actual medical circumstances for the sake of giving fans the very best of a soapy hospital drama. But, would Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) really have been able to tamper with the Alzheimer's trial results the way she did? And would she be able to get away with it if she had?
As it turns out, tampering with the trial results is the least of the medical BS Shonda Rhimes has been feeding us. First of all, if Meredith and Derek were real doctors, they wouldn't even be doing a trial to find a cure for rapidly progressing Alzheimer's to begin with. Apparently, that's not something real docs care about. "Rapid AD [Alzheimer's Disease] just isn't a concept that our field thinks about," says Dr. Bruce L. Miller, director of the Memory & Aging Center at UC San Francisco, in a recent article in the LA Times.
Joshua Grill, director of the Katherine and Benjamin Kagan Alzheimer's Disease Treatment Development Program at UCLA, adds that the method MerDer use to conduct the trial is pretty similar to how it would happen in real life (with proper randomization of patients receiving the drug versus placebos, and the treatment being administered directly into the brain). And, true, a small group of surgeons do know whether the patient received a drug or the placebo, so that, if something goes wrong during the procedure, they can troubleshoot accordingly. But, the glaring inaccuracy on the show is that the doctors performing the procedure would never be involved in analyzing the patients' results.
Joshua says this is so the doctors tracking the results aren't influenced, subconsciously or otherwise, by knowledge of who received the placebo and who received treatment.
Plus, faculty and family members of faculty would never be able to participate in a trial at their home research hospitals. So, as Chief Webber's wife, Adele would never be a viable candidate for the trial to begin with.
What Mer did by tampering with the trial patients' treatment status does constitute "scientific misconduct," but, Bruce says, it would be basically impossible for a researcher to tamper with a trial in that way. Um, duh. If she was caught messing with a blind trial, she would risk losing her medical license and even jail time!
We wonder what punishment Shonda's planning for Meredith...even if her actions were totally implausible.