updated 11/7/2007 9:58:05 AM ET 2007-11-07T14:58:05

1. You’re not going to have sex on your deathbed.
Dying is not as sexy as it looks on "Grey’s Anatomy" or "ER." A real nurse is overworked. She’s not wearing that tight uniform for your benefit. Don’t push it: You may lose your bedpan or your spleen.

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2. An intern won’t save your life.
You’d better hope an intern isn’t the one running your resuscitation attempt or operating on you. Interns — even ones who look like Meredith Grey — are not supposed to manage actual cases.

3. A donor organ won’t arrive in the nick of time.
On TV you get the organ of your choice. In real life you grow weaker and weaker, you try to buy an organ from someone, or you try to procure one from overseas. You can easily die while waiting.

4. You may die of something silly.
In "House" and other flashy diagnostic shows, it’s always the rare blood disorder that kills you, but in your own medical drama, it may be the toothpick you swallowed.

5. You could also die in the E.R.
The waiting time in the small-screen E.R. is short, especially if you’re a guest star. Show up at an actual emergency room and you could wait in an alcove vomiting blood before anyone notices.

6. Flesh-eating bacteria won’t get you.
Sure, just like on "Scrubs," there are some bacteria in the world that can gobble up your skin and threaten your life, but that’s why we have antibiotics. And while drug-resistant bacteria are a growing problem in real hospitals, they won’t consume you.

7. You won’t die right away.
Clogged arteries can be bypassed again and again, chemotherapy can slow the advance of cancer for months or years, and feeding tubes and respirators are able to do all your eating and breathing for you. It’s only on TV that everything is wrapped up between commercials.

8. A doctor won’t deliver a verdict.
Even if you’re dying, statistics show that your doctor may not be the one to tell you right away. He may not want you to lose all hope. He may not know how to treat your pain. We doctors are human and flawed. Most of us are not as bold as Ben Casey or as dewy-eyed as McDreamy.

9. You won’t come back from cardiac arrest.
On TV, Meredith Grey’s heart stops beating for over an hour and her body temperature slips below 90°, yet she fully recovers. Don’t bet on it: Your actual chance of surviving cardiac arrest is less than 18 percent, and brain damage is likely even if you do recover. If you see ghosts like Meredith does, they’re probably real.

10. You may die watching TV.
Being sedentary leads to being overweight, which affects two-thirds of Americans and endangers their lives in innumerable ways. So if you want to watch shows depicting illnesses you won’t die from, at least do it while exercising.

© 2012 Rodale Inc. All rights reserved.


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