Bioethics Blogs

CPR on Popular TV Shows – Survival Rates Still Depicted too High

Public perceptions of CPR can be influenced by the media. Nearly two decades ago, a study found that the rates of survival following CPR were far higher in popular TV shows than actual rates.

A new study reassesses the accuracy of CPR portrayed by popular medical TV shows Grey’s Anatomy and House. Across the two years of the study, CPR was depicted 46 times in the 91 episodes, with a survival rate of 69.6%. Among those immediately surviving following CPR, the majority (71.9%) survived to hospital discharge and 15.6% died before discharge. 

The authors conclude that both popular TV shows portrayed CPR as more effective than actual rates. Overall, the shows portrayed an immediate survival rate nearly twice that of actual survival rates. Inaccurate TV portrayal of CPR survival rates may misinform viewers and influence care decisions made during serious illness and at end of life.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.