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"Hack" TV drama features nurse righting physician wrong, but misses mark on nursing

March 15, 2003 -- The March 14 episode of the CBS drama "Hack" focused on the efforts of Philadelphia cop-turned-cabbie Mike Olshansky (David Morse) and his estranged wife Heather (Donna Murphy), a nurse, to bring to justice an overworked ED resident who misses a diagnosis, then changes a medical record to cover it up when the patient dies. The episode shows that nurses know enough to assess whether treatment decisions of physicians are appropriate. It also features a positive nurse character challenging a system that relies on exhausted residents and would rather hide its errors than explain them to those affected. But the episode is marred by its unrealistic depiction of how things work in a hospital, not to mention its simplistic moralism and poor quality. And the overall vision of nursing is unimpressive. Heather is powerless to counter physician errors or misconduct without the intervention of her renegade husband and a male physician who is romantically interested in her. Nurse managers do not seem to exist. One fellow nurse sees it as her job to cover for the physicians. Even Heather's own bedside care is poor; she probably should have advocated for the patient and prevented his death herself. But the show finds no fault with Heather, perhaps because its makers are unaware that nurses even have independent obligations to assess and intervene.

 

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