'Jeopardy!' Apologizes For 'Outdated And Inaccurate' Medical Term Following Backlash

The producers of “Jeopardy!” issued an apology for using an outdated phrase to describe a medical condition that primarily impacts women.

What Happened: On Monday’s show, guest host Savannah Guthrie read the following clue: “Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome is also known as Grinch Syndrome because this organ is too small.”

The answer was the heart.

The Grinch reference was to the title character in the Dr. Seuss book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” whose malcontent behavior was attributed to having a heart that was two sizes too small.

According to Cedars-Sinai, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is within a body of medical conditions characterized by an orthostatic intolerance occurring when a patient has symptoms of low blood volume while they are standing, which can be relieved when they lie down.

POTS patients can experience a rapid increase in the heartbeat of more than 30 beats per minute or a heart rate that exceeds 120 beats per minute within 10 minutes of standing.

POTS is a common condition affecting between one to three million Americans. It primarily impacts women between the ages of 15 and 50, with POTS symptoms sometimes preceding menstrual periods or after pregnancy, major surgery or significant injury or viral illness. There is no evidence that the condition is caused by having an abnormally undersized heart.

What Happened Next: After the episode aired, Dysautonomia International, a nonprofit focused on calling attention to autonomic nervous system disorders, took “Jeopardy” to task for using the “Grinch Syndrome” to describe the disorder.

“Hey @Jeopardy no one with any credibility calls POTS ‘Grinch Syndrome,’” said the nonprofit on its Twitter Inc TWTR page. “Promoting outdated misogynistic terms to describe a debilitating autonomic nervous system disorder that impacts millions of Americans is not cool. We request an apology on behalf of our community. Do better.”

Dysautonomia International’s then tweeted a post-script: “Can you imagine Jeopardy making light of cancer or MS patients with a ‘funny’ name for their debilitating health condition? Not acceptable. We’d love to see real questions about the autonomic nervous system.”

And Then What Happened: Dysautonomia International’s reaction unleashed a fusillade of disappointment and worse on Twitter, and the “Jeopardy!” producers went online with a statement of remorse.

“Yesterday’s program included a clue about postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS),” the show tweeted. “After hearing from the community, we found we used an outdated and inaccurate term for this disorder, and we apologize.”

Not everyone was eager to criticize the game show. Dr. Svetlana Blitshteyn, director and founder of the Dysautonomia Clinic and clinical assistant professor of neurology at the University of Buffalo’s Jacobs Medical School, saw the gaffe as means of educating the public on the condition.

“As a neurologist specializing in #POTS, I think when #POTS makes it to the national headlines, it's a good thing even though the circumstances are bad,” she tweeted. “@Jeopardy and @SavannahGuthrie have a chance to make it right by explaining what #POTS is to the viewers.”

“Jeopardy!” is produced by Sony Pictures Television, a division of Sony Group Corp. SONY


Posted In: Dr. Svetlana BlitshteynDysautonomia InternationalJeopardy!postural orthostatic tachycardia syndromesocial mediatrendy storyNewsMedia

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