It’s easy to make Terence Wrong blow his top.

Just call his documentary series “Boston Med,” which premieres at 10 p.m. EDT Thursday on ABC, a reality show.

“There’s nothing ‘reality’ about us, except for the fact that we’re real while reality shows are not,” says the Peabody Award-winning executive producer of the 2008 medical documentary series “Hopkins.” “We’re not paying anybody to be in this show. We’re not manipulating the scenes. We’re not goosing the action. We are a documentary series rooted in classic observational, cinema verite techniques.”

“Boston Med” is eight hours of fly-on-the-wall filmmaking, a candid look at the ups and downs of hospital care at three leading Boston hospitals, and it’s such compelling television that one wonders why reality-show producers need to cheat and fudge the reality of their content to make shows watchable.

Over a four-month period, Wrong and his team were given unparalleled access to hospital staffs and patients at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Children’s Hospital.

“Boston really is a cradle of modern medicine,” Wrong says. “The city is New York’s peer in medicine, maybe even superior to L.A., which for a city half their size is really quite impressive.

“Modern anesthesia was invented at Mass General, which is a leader in so many areas. Children’s Hospital is arguably the best children’s hospital in the country. The Brigham is a leader in a number of areas, including OB-GYN. They did the first transplant of any organ ever at the Brigham.”

From emergency-room rescues to end-of-life meetings with patients’ loved ones to conversations that happen outside a patient’s earshot, “Boston Med” explores a culture of medical care in an unguarded way that Wrong hopes will reveal some “fundamental truths” about hospital medicine.

“The main one is that you can go to the best hospital, you can have the best doctor and they can have the best intentions, and yet you may not have the best outcome,” Wrong says.

The practice of medicine is still as much an art as it is a science. Carefully planned treatment can be sabotaged by bad luck. And even the best doctors, heroes in most situations, aren’t immune to mistakes.

“I don’t think that reality squares up with what the public expects when they walk in the door,” Wrong says. “I think most people walk in thinking, ‘I’m just going to treat this like I’m going in to get my carburetor changed. Gotta work on the old body, see the mechanic, change a part.’ But it’s never like that.

“No surgery is routine. And what a patient considers a good outcome — ‘fix me up the way I used to be’ — is not necessarily what a doctor might consider a good outcome. For a doctor, a good outcome might be that the patient is still dealing with certain health issues, but at least he’s alive.

That said, “Boston Med” does feature an array of near-miraculous outcomes.

The first episode shows the efforts at Mass General to save a police officer who has been shot during a botched robbery attempt. Dr. Maria Troulis is the oral-maxillofacial surgeon who reconstructs the officer’s jaw, shattered by a bullet. The same episode shadows Dr. Daniel Dibardino as he tries to pull off a tricky double-lung transplant involving two recipients.

The final episode, meanwhile, features plastic surgeon Bo Pomahac and what turns out to be the second face transplant ever performed in the United States. It’s a poignant story in which the widow of a Hollywood marketing wiz donates her late husband’s face to a down-on-his-luck Vietnam veteran.

“Overall I think these stories will make people confident to be a patient,” Wrong says.


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