10 Completely Unrealistic Moments in Television ERs

No Protective Gear, No Worries
A real surgeon would never go without a mask during a procedure. © dmbaker/iStockphoto

Operating rooms have a dress code, including personal protective gear (gloves, gowns, masks, eyewear and disposable, fluid-resistant shoe covers). Surgical masks are worn in the procedure area — a fresh mask for each surgery — and please leave the jewelry at home (we're looking at you, surgeons of "Grey's Anatomy").

Surgical masks, or at least the notion of covering the nose and mouth for infection control, date back more than a century. The idea of avoiding infection by filtering the air we inhale dates back to the turn of the 20th century and a German physician named Carl Flugge, a bacteriologist who argued we could avoid spreading infection if we avoid breathing in airborne bacteria and viruses, such as those that cause tuberculosis and measles. He was right.

While it's been common for surgeons and physicians wear surgical masks as part of wound control (studies don't necessarily indicate that masks provide any measurable level of disease prevention in this scenario, or at least it's difficult to prove any positive impact) and to avoid blood and other bodily fluid splatters, it's common to see TV physicians and surgeons without proper protective gear. It's also common to see improper hand washing [source: Phend].