The Death of Dr. Mark Sloan

Ahhh… Grey’s Anatomy Fans.

I need your help . . .

This may seem funny coming from a medical expert like myself but . . .

I. Have. No. Idea. What. Mark. Sloan. Died. Of?

Anyone know?

The tumultuous end of last season– the plane crash with almost every major character on the plane left us in doubt as to who survived and who didn’t.

At the beginning of the current season, it’s assumed Mark Sloan is dead. But then, he’s not. But then, he is.

From a medical standpoint, I do give Grey’s credit for showing some true aftermath of the crash. A renowned neurosurgeon who no longer has full function of his dominant hand and can no longer do surgery. Kudos. The post-traumatic stress aspects that had one character going through some fairly severe post-traumatic stress. Honestly, how Christina is still walking upright . . . you know after the whole gun situation too when she had to operate on Derick with a weapon to her head.

Really…

The confusing thing about Mark Sloan’s death was the ACTUAL cause of death was never mentioned. He had a major chest injury. We know that. He was coherent and talking after the crash. Good! But then, his happiness at Seattle Grace is noted to be “the surge”– which I guess is to equate with a real thing that can happen when a terminal patient has a period of lucidity in order to say good-bye.

But what would have been terminal for this doctor? His heart was too weakened by the crash he wouldn’t live? Hmm… how about a heart transplant? Vasoactive drips? An LVAD device?

To confuse matters more– he signs a 30-day DNR order where if he hasn’t fully recovered, they are to discontinue life support.

But, he still has the breathing tube in his mouth at the end of 30 days.

And here is my teaching point at the end of all my musings. Generally, a ventilator dependent patient (or one who isn’t recovering quickly) is typically taken to surgery and a trach is placed somewhere between 7-14 days (sometimes sooner.) A trach is easier to take of and a more secure airway. Having an endotracheal tube in the mouth and through the vocal cords for that long can cause damage.

So keep this time frame in mind fellow fiction authors.

And please . . . someone tell me . . . what did Mark Sloan die from?

6 thoughts on “The Death of Dr. Mark Sloan

  1. I don’t know if you ever figured out what Mark Sloan’s actual diagnosed cause of death was, but in the finale of season 8, Christina said she was 70% sure Mark had cardiac tamponade. Which is, compression of the heart caused by fluid collecting in the sac surrounding the heart.
    Mark was probably hit in his chest area during the plane crash. And with all the adrenaline he was having, and Lexie’s death, he was most likely not even feeling chest pains until after Lexie had died and even then he was still in the shock of her death.
    Also, when Mark was trying to free Lexie from underneath the piece of the plane she was stuck under, he most likely made the fluid building up in his chest worsen by the strain of trying to lift the bulky chunk of the plane.

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    • Hi Haley!

      Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving this comment. Yea, I know they floated out the reason for this death was cardiac tamponade– the problem is– that is a HIGHLY treatable condition and Sloan was at a world renown medical center. Would have been better for them to say that he developed some type of cardiomyopathy, put him on the transplant list, and he dies before he’s able to get a heart. That would have been much more believable and realistic.

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  2. For the first comment, Mark was on life support, then not, that confused me too. The fact they did the crash, then the next episode Interns are afraid of Meredith and then back to the state of crash victims in next episode. That is where the confusion of on and off life support came in. But I agree, about switching to a tracheotomy, but I think the need for the vent actually happens later then we thought? Maybe he refused yes but in the one statement he says to Richard “If you can get me back get me back”, so that doesn’t sound like a man who didn’t want treatment. They really did make a weird exit with him having never given a cause and likely there intention to keep chatter going about him? I too really didn’t like that aspect as when they asked Richard and he felt it was the surge, they didn’t say due to his terminal illness, just that terminally ill patients sometimes have it. Lost the will for life maybe? Wanted to be with Lexi in an afterlife? Strange.

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  3. i’ve been rewatching the entire series and i’ve been constantly trying to research what the hell is his cause of death was. there is nothing conclusive. i’m so happy this page is still alive, if anyone has any insight to offer, please do!! meredith (and im sure the other doctors when they were found) fixed the tamponade, which is highly treatable as mentioned above. so what was his terminal illness? why the surge if his injuries were resolved? wtf 😦 this is the one hole in her writing that has never made sense….

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    • Hi Christina,

      Thanks so much for leaving a comment. It always bothers me on these shows when amazing hospitals cannot do amazing surgeries. Mark Sloan’s death never made any medical sense and they certainly could have done more justice for the character.

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