Medical TV show secrets

04 May 2022
A look behind the emergency rooms of TV shows.

Medical TV shows just know how to get our hearts racing, chests heaving, and blood boiling with some of the cleverly laid out and realistic surgical and medical scenes. Every scene is undoubtedly gripping and leaves us feeling like we've just stepped in and out of the ER. But just how do they do it?  We're dissecting the "secrets" of the emergency room.

Fake blood

Where there's a medical emergency there's bound to be blood and lots of it. TV shows use fake blood mixes made from various different types of liquids. The most commonly used one is corn syrup and food colouring. Some shows have even used dishwashing liquid to get that thick realistic consistency of blood. Darker colouring is used for dried blood or clotted blood scenes. Test tubes filled with fake blood are often used and hidden on the actor for bleeding scenes. 

Prosthetic body parts

For the more gory operation scenes, prosthetics are used to give that realistic effect of a badly injured body part or a deep cutting scene. Fleshy looking vests and rubber face masks are used when dealing with face or body cutting scenes. Most fake organs are made from rubber and the texture, colour, and size are carefully developed. Of course, the make-up department does a really good job making everything work together to produce a super real effect, along with the best camera techniques to further enhance the look and feel. 

Missing limbs

While on the rare occasion some shows do cast actors which specific body ailments and conditions to play in a specific scene, most of the time missing limbs are created by using the green screen method. As an example: Actors can wear green socks during an amputated leg scene and later on that part covered in green will be edited out via CGI, thus creating the look of an amputated leg. Pretty cool, hey?

Fake needles

Is every actor that ever graced our screens not afraid of needles? There's no need to be. Custom prop needles are used for injection scenes. The needle is blunt and not injected directly into the actor's skin, but retracted into the syringe covering instead. This is a very smart trick, making it look as if the person is actually getting a real shot!

Real vomit?

We're spilling the beans on this one. The special effects crew often attach a non-visible tube filled with liquids to the side of an actor's face to produce vomiting scenes. With the proper editing, the scene actually looks like a person throwing up!


Love the drama the ER brings? Book your appointment with The Good Doctor season 4 on Wednesdays at 20:30 on Me, channel 115