‘NY Med’ Continues ABC’s Winning Medical Doc Formula, But With a Celebrity Doctor Twist

By Alex Weprin 

Tonight at 10pmET/9pmCT, ABC News will debut its latest long-form documentary series, “NY Med.” Like previous efforts “Boston Med” and “Hopkins,” the new series is from producer Terry Wrong, and follows life at a busy hospital in a big city. This time the city is New York, and the hospital is New York Presbyterian.

The first episode follows the format that made the others such compelling TV, weaving together stories of doctors, residents, nurses and patients. Some staffers appear in multiple episodes, others appear only once.

One doctor that is sure to draw attention to the series is Dr. Mehmet Oz, who also hosts a successful daytime talk show, when he isn’t in surgery. In the debut episode, Oz operates on a patient named Jack Abramson (pictured), a man with no friends or family at his side when he first comes in. Wrong says that it was never his intention to follow Oz.


“One of the ironies here is that I went up there and I didn’t want to do the easy thing, and follow Oz. I kind of fell into it, because my videographer in cardiac asked ‘can’t I follow him for a little bit?’” Wrong said at a screening of the program. “The first thing she shot was that Jack Abramson case. I just started watching the tape, and you don’t really need two producer brain cells to know that this is great TV.”

While New York is a city that would seem to be ripe for this sort of program, Wrong said that it was actually a real challenge.

“We had shied away from New York medicine in the past,” Wrong said, noting the difficulty in getting everyone from hospital administrators to doctors and patients on board. Luckily, he added, the staff at Presbyterian were exceedingly welcoming, having been big fans of his last two efforts on ABC.

The first episode opens with an ER patient with a problem familiar to anyone who watches the commercials during football games. The man had taken a Cialis, and it resulted in him having an erection that lasted far longer than the four hours cited on the box. Given the circumstances, one would think it would be hard to get a patient to agree to be filmed. Wrong says that is not the case.

“There isn’t much of a sell job, people intuitively get it, overwhelmingly, 90% or 95% say yes,” he said. “There are certain areas where you will get a higher turn-down rate, cosmetic surgery, for example, but I think people do it because something bad has happened to them, and they are just going to sit there and be more or less passive as treatments and tests are done to them, whereas this feels kind of like a proactive thing they can do.”

Representatives from the hospital, along with some of the doctors and nurses featured in the program, were in attendance at the screening, and said they were pleased with the final product, though some noted the awkwardness of watching themselves on-screen.