“Could you catch fire during surgery?”


This question was actually posed — and answered — Thursday morning on ABC’s Good Morning America.


GMA’s Robin Roberts teased the “Medical Alert” segment thusly: “Imagine you’re on the operating table out cold and you burst into flames. No kidding. It really happens…” (Translation: Be afraid. Be very afraid. And, whatever you do, don’t turn off GMA until we air this very scary segment.)


“It really happens” how often, you ask? Well, it happened on ABC’s own medical soap opera, Gray’s Anatomy, we learned at the top of GMA’s segment (dramatic clip included). And in the real world? According to Good Morning Amercia’s report, “45 million Americans undergo surgery each year” and “fires in the operating room actually occur over 100 times every year.” In other words, operating room fires occur during something like one out of every 450,000 surgeries. And, GMA noted, “while 80 percent of these fires don’t cause harm, the other 20 percent do.” So, in something like one out of every 2.25 million surgeries, there is a fire in the operating room that harms the patient.


Remind us, what are the odds of being struck by lightening? One in 280,000, according to the National Lightening Safety Institute. So the odds of you being struck by lightning are eight times as great as the odds of an operating room fire.


This segment got us wondering: how many other scare-mongering network morning news show segments could we scare up (with Nexis’ kind assistance)? Plenty, as it turns out. These segments, it seems, are frequently teased or titled in the form of an absurd-sounding but attention-grabbing question (like — “Could you catch fire during surgery?”). And if they aren’t having you fear for your life (or your child’s life), the morning shows are stoking your fears of inadequacy or uncouthness.


Here are some titles/headlines of actual network morning news show segments from recent weeks:


Is This Ship Haunted? GMA Goes Ghostbusting.

Are We Lonelier Than Ever?

What Makes a Man Manly or a Wuss?

Tyler Thoreson From men.style.com Talks About Socks. (“When is it appropriate to wear white socks, when is it appropriate to wear no socks?”)

The Germs That Are Lurking In Your Car And What You Can Do to Protect Your Family.

Addiction to Psychics.

Dance Without Embarrassing the Kids.

Safety Alert; Is Your Limo Driver a Danger?

Tanning Addiction; Tanorexia Health Risk. (“They call it tanorexia. Could tanning be almost as addictive as heroin? And are your teens being targeted?”)

Danger at the Wheel: How Safe is Your Carpool?

Can You Trust Your Nanny Cam?

Caught On Tape; When Bears Attack in Suburbs.

How to Spot a Dangerous Guy.

Consumer Alert: Beware of Free Medicine.

Tips For Outdoor Pools, Not Forgetting Kids in the Car.


And, our favorite of the bunch:


Morning Shows Gone Wrong?


Unfortunately, this last one was not actually a segment examining what’s “gone wrong” with morning news shows but rather a pretext for showing a clip from NBC’s Saturday Night Live spoofing live news screw-ups.


The scary part? The segment wasn’t even on NBC.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.