Family & Friends or Public?

Grey’s Anatomy is a renowned American medical drama series that premieres on ABC is about various challenges the characters face in terms of personal and medical decisions. The encounters the characters face test their moral beliefs and values as they choose between the lively hood of their patients and career to become surgeons. The ongoing show focuses around a few major characters, but today I will be talking about four of them: Meredith Grey, Derek Shepard, Richard Webber, and Alex Karev. Dr. Webber is the Chief of Surgery at Seattle Grace Hospital along with Dr. Shepard as an attending who oversees the residents, Dr. Grey and Dr. Karev, who have become close friends over the course of their residency. This show displays numerous moments of internal conflict based on the oath they have sworn to as doctors.


In season 7 from episode 17 to 22, there is an ongoing conflict that battle on for these four characters regarding the ethics of the decisions made. Dr. Shepard recently started a new Alzheimer’s clinical trial with Dr. Grey is working along side. One day, Dr. Webber’s wife, Adele, came into the ER for a broken wrist and later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Dr. Webber wanted her to be on trial desperately in hope to cure this disease. Unfortunately, Adele just made the borderline of the scoring so her condition was not deemed as severe. Dr. Grey has a close relationship with Dr. Grey and with a little convincing from Dr. Webber, she knew what she has to do. Dr. Grey trespasses into the medical pharmacy room to look at the medical agent that was going to be given to Adele and proceed to switch the given agents with another patient, who had an active one. Dr. Karev saw Dr. Grey holding the clinical trial files and assumed that she was tampering with the medical trial agents. Dr. Grey said in the show that if she had to do all over again, she wouldn’t have changed a thing because it was for Adele. Do you think what Dr. Grey did was ethical even if it was for someone who she held a very close relationship with? If you were in her position, would you have done the same thing as her?

At what point do you think informing your upper management or do you keep it to yourself because of your relationships with them? How do you weigh the pros and cons of this situation, do you think about the overall public and the clinical trial or just your friend? At this point I forgot to mention that the residents were in competition with each other for the Chief Resident position. As the date got closer for the position to be chosen, Dr. Karev decided to inform upper management about Dr. Grey’s actions with the intention of only disqualifying her for the position, but instead it backfired and got her kicked off the trial and fired as a surgeon. So is this what our society has taught us, to backstab each other to get ahead? This brings me back to think about consequentialism and showing off the flaws of it based on what Dr. Grey did because she was weighing the pros and cons for the public, but immediate friends, who she saw as family.

If you were Dr. Karev, how would you have handled the situation with the mind set that it is a few days away from choosing the next Chief Resident?


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8 thoughts on “Family & Friends or Public?”

  1. There seems to be many ethical decisions in this episode. Dr. Grey clearly did not act under the ethical code of doctors when she tampered with the medications. She should have gone through the proper channels in order to help her friend.


  2. The decision made by Dr. Grey was unethical because it went against protocol. Dr. Grey switched Adele’s and another patient’s medications. This not only impacted Adele’s health, but it also impacted the other patients. If I were in that situation I would feel very guilty for taking another patient’s medication and giving it to someone else. This situation is very similar to a case on the television show House. Doctor House discovers his friend, Wilson, has cancer and ultimately gives him medication without Wilson’s consent. Because Dr. House cared about his friend’s well-being, he made an unethical choice to go against Wilson’s wish and treat him. In both examples, an unethical decision was made because of the relationship between two individuals. What role does relationships play in unethical decisions? Do you think that you having a closer relationship is to another individual would make you more willing to make an unethical decision?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If it is really early trials, the drug may not even work! Plus, the patient who was going to get it would never know if she or he was getting the drug or a placebo. Does that matter at all?


  3. I’m an avid Grey’s Anatomy fan and in every episode I watch I put myself in Dr. Grey’s shoes, so I’ve had many moments throughout various episodes where I’ve asked myself the same question: What would I do?

    It was wrong in the first place that Adele entered the study, since she didn’t qualify for it and disabled the next person who might have a worse condition then her from entering the trial.

    To reply your question, no, I don’t think that I would have done the same thing as Dr. Grey. I would have first talked to my supervisors in order to find alternative options. Swapping the active and in-active ingredients affects the trial, the doctors involved, the other patients in the trial, and the reputation of the hospital all for helping one person. I understand that it was a tough decision since Adele is someone who Dr. Grey holds close to her heart, but at the same time, even if she didn’t enter the trial, she could have benefited from the trial if the drug came out to be a success.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with everything you’ve said. The trial can only have the greatest chance of success and benefit the most people if it does not get compromised by Grey’s actions. Still, are Karev’s actions moral? It may have been his duty to report the incident, but if he didn’t do it with good intentions, is it still moral? Kant might say Karev is unethical. Would you agree?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Kant does make a big deal about the morality of intentions, Megan. So, even though acting as if your actions were a universal maxim would imply reporting Dr. Grey, Karev’s motivation to do it to win the spot would taint that moral decision.

    I would report Dr. Grey, if this were a real situation. Beyond the immediate actions, her disregard for the sanctity of medical records and her willingness to suborn the medical trials is troubling for all her other actions as a doctor.

    It’s dramatized, of course. I don’t think any treatment for Alzheimer’s is going to be that dramatic. If you haven’t ever had someone suffer through it, it is one of the worst diseases/conditions I know of, as much for the loved ones as the person because you watch the self, the personality slowly melt and drain away in missing synapses.


  5. I’m glad that I am not interested in being a doctor, because I feel like this would be a really difficult situation to be in. Although Grey’s decision is clearly unethical and jeopardizes the whole trial, imagine having to watch someone you truly care about not get the treatment. It would be hard to sit back and do nothing, but there was probably a better decision Grey could have made.
    In regards to Karev, I also agree his motives were unethical, but if he had reported Grey with the right intentions, would that decision be ethical? Yes obviously in the sense that Grey manipulated the trial, but what about Karev’s role as a friend? Is it ethical to betray a friend if they have done something clearly unethical?


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