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ER episode analyses

"Hollywood has no obligation to be accurate whatsoever"
— Mark Morocco, MD, ER medical supervisor, 2002


The extubating babysitter

March 29, 2009 -- This Thursday, April 2, NBC's "ER" will broadcast its series finale, after 15 years of the popular, intense prime time drama about a busy public ED in Chicago. The show has always been physician-centric, with only one major nurse character to balance its 8-10 lead physicians. It has persistently suggested that ED nurses report to physicians, rather than nurse managers. And it has featured a great deal of physician nursing, in which the physician characters provide care that nurses really do, from defibrillation to triage to psychosocial care of patients and families. The show's relative realism and overall dramatic quality has only made these flawed depictions more persuasive to millions of viewers around the world. However, particularly in the last few years, the show has also included some of the best depictions of nursing ever seen on prime time television. Its major nurse character has at times operated with startling clinical skill, and even minor nurse characters have played roles in care that are clearly more important and realistic than those seen on any other recent network show. Episodes broadcast over the last few months illustrate all of these features. So on the occasion of the show's farewell, we discuss several of these plotlines as a tribute to what may well have been--for all its flaws--the best major U.S. network show ever for nursing. more...see film clips from the three episodes!


Helping you remember complicated facts

October 30, 2008 -- Tonight's episode of NBC's "ER" features a remarkable minor plotline about physician attitudes toward nursing, particularly the nurse anesthetist program that major nurse character Sam Taggart began in earlier episodes this month. This episode includes scenes in which Taggart's boyfriend, resident Tony Gates, condescends to Taggart both with regard to her current work and her anesthesia program. Gates does so in the context of his clinical teaching of an attractive intern who seems to have a crush on him. Taggart sets them both straight about nursing autonomy and skill, at one point successfully taking over an urgent intubation from the flailing intern. And other physician characters express support for Taggart. We commend writer Karen Maser and the show for the episode, "Haunted," which drew 9.2 million U.S. viewers. more...



November 8, 2007 -- The episodes of NBC's "ER" broadcast tonight and a week ago send typically mixed messages about nursing autonomy and expertise. On the one hand, the episodes include some helpful suggestions of nursing skill. These include lone major nurse character Sam Taggart's (right) quick thinking to prevent a combative patient's suicide, and in a pediatric trauma scene, a rare indication that some nurses are more skilled than others. Sadly, other scenes suggest that nurses report to physicians, that physicians manage nurses' work at triage, and that physicians have to persuade nurses to allow a natural death for terminal patients. And there is the usual focus (even by the nurse characters) on physicians' professional hierarchy and advancement, while the nursing analogs are utterly ignored. The November 1 episode was "The Test" by Lisa Zwerling, MD (9.1 million viewers), and tonight's episode was David Zabel's "Blackout" (8.4 million viewers). more...


Nothing more than a persistent illusion

May 10, 2007 -- Tonight's "ER" episode was yet another in the show's long tradition of suggesting (at times) that nurses are skilled and important to patient care, yet also suggesting (at times) that nurses merely assist the physicians who have the real expertise and responsibility. Don't get us wrong: we'd miss a prime time world in which this NBC show did not regularly present us with the challenge of parsing the diverse and sometimes subtle messages it sends. These range from some good care and advocacy from sole major nurse character Sam Taggart, to the little bits of skill displayed by the minor nurse characters, to the regular physician nursing and nurse-free care scenes, to the implication that the show's countless wallpaper nurses are there to push gurneys, have physicians sign forms, and hold objects during codes. If this is "ER"'s last season, we face being left mostly with a stunningly regressive prime time landscape of mute handmaidens (or more precisely, with glimpses of their forearms and backs), with the occasional "naughty nurse" thrown in. Still, parts of this episode, notably the relentless physician nursing we see in the care of a physicist with septic shock and the growing role of new ED medical chief Kevin Moretti, show how short even "ER" falls of a good overall portrayal of nursing. The episode, "Sea Change", was written by Lisa Zwerling, MD, and drew 9 million U.S. viewers. more...


Midnight in the Garden of Nurses and Murses

February 2007 -- Five recent episodes of "ER" that chronicle the short ED stint of nurse Ben Parker illustrate the NBC show's sometimes impressive--but still mostly inadequate--portrayal of nursing. "ER" is the only drama now on television to make any real effort to show that nurses are skilled, intelligent, and important to patient care. These episodes, broadcast over the last four months, highlight a strong, competent man in nursing. They also include examples of ED nurses' life-saving skill, patient advocacy and education, especially by tough, expert major nurse character Sam Taggart. But the show's physician-centric structure--after nearly 13 seasons, there is still just one major nurse character--and assumptions mean that each scene with such commendable features will be outweighed by many others suggesting that physicians provide all important care, including key things nurses really do. Notable examples in these episodes include the countless nurse-free patient handoffs from paramedics. Sometimes one scene sends all these messages at once. Showrunner David Zabel and Lisa Zwerling, MD, wrote, together or individually, three of these episodes; Karen Maser and R. Scott Gemmill are each responsible for one of the others. The episodes each drew roughly 11-13 million U.S. viewers.

"Tell Me No Secrets" (November 30, 2006)

"City of Mercy" (December 7, 2006)

"A House Divided" (January 11, 2007)

"Murmurs of the Heart" (February 1, 2007)

"Crisis of Conscience" (February 15, 2007)

See our full "ER" review including 23 film clips...



November 9, 2006 -- Tonight NBC's "ER" included two plotlines in which nurse Sam Taggart came off as a tough, adaptive critical thinker who was well-qualified to handle difficult patients, interns, and attendings. The episode is marred by a few significant missteps, which tend to reinforce the idea that nurses are physician subordinates who take their "orders." But in one of the episode's major plotlines, Taggart masterfully manages two personalities of a patient with dissociative identity disorder. She finally persuades the patient's extremely hostile, resistant persona that he should allow a pericardiocentesis, effectively saving the patient's life. The scene in which Taggart does this, however realistic it may be, is one of the best depictions of a nurse's expert psychosocial care that we have ever seen on U.S. network television. The episode, Virgil Williams's "Jigsaw," drew 14.5 million U.S. viewers and it will be seen by millions more around the world. more...


Between the Boob and the Tube

September 28, 2006 -- Tonight's episode of NBC's "ER" marked the return of writer Lisa Zwerling, MD, to the County General NICU. Zwerling's January 2004 episode followed a rough NICU rotation by then-medical student Abby Lockhart. This time, physician Lockhart is the mother of a premature infant in the unit. Like the 2004 episode", this one presents the NICU as a physician-intensive care unit. Smart, caring physician characters do everything that matters, including key psychosocial care that nurses generally do in real life. But Zwerling and co-writer Janine Sherman Barrois have expanded the NICU nurse repertoire here. The main nurse character to emerge in 2004 was a battle-axe who suggested that veteran NICU nurses are petty martinets who terrorize medical students. In the new episode, the two nurses who actually get a few lines are utterly incompetent. One is a lactation consultant whose comments are idiotic and insensitive. The other nurse dismisses the concerns of Lockhart's mother Maggie about a critical heart monitor alarm. Maggie has to virtually yell at her to get the physicians--you know, the real life-savers. Naturally, it is a life-threatening problem, and the infant is rushed to surgery. "ER" has at times shown physician incompetence. But it's rarely if ever this extreme, it's usually the result of inexperience, and there are always plenty of counterexamples to balance it. That's not the case for nursing in this episode, which drew more than 14 million U.S. viewers. more...


We expect you to know what's going on around you

September 14, 2006 -- The May 2006 season finale of NBC's "ER," rebroadcast tonight, is a good example of last season's better episodes for nursing. It includes a commendable number of small portrayals of ED nursing skill. Yet these are offset by suggestions that physicians are ultimately in charge of the clinical setting, as well as by some physician nursing, particularly with regard to triage. After all these years, the ensemble drama's most glaring problem remains that it has one, and only one, major nurse character. The episode, "21 Guns," was written by show runner David Zabel. more...


A Lump of Coal

December 8, 2005 -- Tonight's episode of NBC's "ER" seemed to mark the final exit of ED nurse manager Eve Peyton, the only significant nurse character ever presented as the clinical peer of the attending physicians. Her departure after six episodes marked such a crude and implausible swerve into extreme battleaxe territory that it's hard not to see it as a dramatic hit against any nurse uppity enough to challenge the senior physicians who dominate "ER." In fact, it could even be seen as a message to any nurse presumptuous enough to challenge the show's own physician-centric vision. Peyton was always a rule-bound micromanager who was considered a "bitch." But she was also a formidable, doctorally-prepared clinical expert who acted as a mentor to lone major nurse character Sam Taggart. She modified decisions that proved unworkable, displayed a sharp wit, and seemed to be a consummate professional. But tonight, Peyton got dumped by her boyfriend; decked an offensive patient dressed as Santa Claus and poured urine on him, with no physical provocation and no regret; was fired on Christmas Eve; and bid farewell to the ED staff with standard PhD-type phrases like "bite me," "screw yourselves," and "you all suck." The episode did at least have Peyton fired by the "nursing supervisor" rather than a physician. But it also began with new chief of ED medicine Luka Kovac sending three of Peyton's ED nurses home because he foresaw a light shift, and calling them "support staff" as he did so, showing once again that even on "ER," you just can't keep a good handmaiden stereotype down. The episode, "All About Christmas Eve," was written by Janine Sherman Barrois, and seen by 15.4 million U.S. viewers. more...


"OK, folks, the good news is the hospital has approved four-to-one ratios."

November 17, 2005 -- In a plotline begun in the November 3 episode and resolved tonight, NBC's ER" again showed nurses managing nurses, contrary to years of "ER" practice in which physicians did that. The show also made an unprecedented, if brief and unclear, statement about nurse short-staffing, overtime and the shortage. We applaud those efforts. In the first episode, ED nurse manager Eve Peyton abruptly hired major nurse character Sam Taggart as her lieutenant, and together they abruptly fired veteran nurse Haleh Adams for working excessive overtime. Adams was later rehired, but as you may have guessed, some elements of the plotline left something to be desired. They suggested that hiring nurse managers and firing veteran nurses were fairly casual affairs, and that the big OT problem now is some nurses seeking to work too many extra shifts, rather than the reverse problem of mandation, in which hospitals force nurses to work excessive hours in order to cut costs. The Nov. 3 episode was "Dream House" by David Zabel, and the Nov. 17 episode was "Two Ships" by Joe Sachs, MD, and Virgil Williams. more...


Peyton Place

October 20, 2005 -- The October 6 and 13 episodes of NBC's "ER" introduced hardcore ED nurse manager Eve Peyton (Kristen Johnston). Peyton is the first real nurse manager the show has portrayed in any depth since the 1990's, and perhaps the most clinically expert nurse character to ever appear on a major prime time U.S. show. These episodes present her as a kind of nurse manager / clinical nurse specialist hybrid, a smoother, funnier Margaret Houlihan who takes the ED nursing staff firmly in hand and injects herself into their care, doling out advice, sending nurses here and there, stepping in when she feels needed, and not being shy about telling senior physicians how they're screwing up. The show stresses Peyton's professionalism and autonomy. It's funny to watch the other characters react, at times speechless, as "ER" tries to bring its audience somewhat up to speed with features of nursing that are common in the real world. However, the show still indicates that Peyton reports to chief of medicine Kerry Weaver, rather than upper level nurse managers. Peyton's management style does not seem ideal, and the other characters at first regard her as something of a "bitch." But given the show's tradition of annoying physician managers, we are not too concerned yet. Johnston does not appear in the show's credits, which would signal that Peyton was a major character. And we are concerned that in her absence, the show would likely revert to its overwhelmingly physician-centric depiction of care, as tonight's Peyton-free episode suggested. Indeed, even with Peyton, the physician characters still dominate. Even so, we thank episode writers David Zabel ("The Man With No Name") and R. Scott Gemmill ("Blame It on the Rain") for these serious efforts to address some of the nursing issues that we have been raising with the show for years. more...


Christmas in July syndrome?

September 22, 2005 -- Tonight's 12th season premiere of NBC's "ER" went out of its way to acknowledge that veteran nurses play a role in coping with "July syndrome," which occurs when new physicians arrive in U.S. hospitals to begin their internships. The episode included nurse character Chunie Marquez acting to prevent several dangerous intern errors, and nurse Haleh Adams critiquing a new second year resident's intern teaching. For a major network television show, this is extraordinary, and we thank episode writers John Wells, Joe Sachs, MD, and Lisa Zwerling, MD. Unfortunately, the episode seemed to present these veteran nurses mostly as assistants to the senior physicians. Rather than directly teaching the junior physicians and giving them a chance to improve, as real nurses generally would, the nurse characters simply reported the problems to the senior physicians. And of course, the whole focus of the episode's clinical scenes, as usual, was the training of physicians. The show has never addressed nurse training in any significant way. more...

Judas in a lab coat: "ER" takes on that whole "female-physician-mistaken-for-a-nurse" thing

April 28, 2005 -- Most of tonight's episode of NBC's "ER," written by Lydia Woodward and Lisa Zwerling, M.D., was fairly unremarkable from a nursing perspective. It featured the standard portrayal of nurses as skilled but peripheral physician assistants. However, one scene did call upon intern character Abby Lockhart--also a nurse--to address a patient's dismissive reference to her as a nurse. So, did the show have Lockhart mount a brief but spirited defense of the widely disrespected profession-in-crisis in which she herself spent many years saving lives and improving outcomes? You make the call, based on her indignant response to the patient: "I am not a nurse. I'm a doctor." more...


Schering-Plough asks "ER" to portray nursing accurately

April 26, 2005 -- Today pharmaceutical giant Schering-Plough asked "ER" Executive Producer John Wells to help address the nursing shortage by developing "stories that highlight accurate roles, responsibilities, skills and contributions of today's modern nursing profession." more...


"Thanks for everything"

March 24, 2005 -- Tonight's episode of NBC's "ER" included something we weren't sure we'd ever see from the show: a patient's mother thanking nurse character Sam Taggart for making a catch that would play a key role in her son's impending surgery, followed by a "ditto that" from the intern who had resisted Taggart. What can we say? Nursing skill, patient advocacy, informal teaching of young physicians, due credit for patient outcomes--it's almost like episode writers David Zabel and Lisa Zwerling, M.D., were actually paying attention to our concerns. Of course, this is just a minor part of one plotline. The episode still has nurses reporting to the chief of ED medicine, and it remains focused on the physicians' work, largely ignoring nursing when it's not showing physicians doing it. But we certainly commend the show for this effort to show the value of nursing. more...


Join our "ER" Sponsors Campaign!

March 3, 2005 -- Our "ER"s sponsors campaign moves into phase 2 today, as we ask our supporters to start contacting major corporations to ask them to stop advertising on "ER" until the show ends its damaging handmaiden portrayal of nursing. Learn more, or click here to take action now.


We urge corporate giants to divest from NBC's "ER"

February 25, 2005 -- We have launched a campaign asking 23 major corporate sponsors of the NBC/Warner television drama "ER" to refrain from placing further advertising on the popular show worldwide until it dramatically improves its portrayal of nurses.
see the full press release...


"She's the nurse, maybe she doesn't know"

February 17, 2005 -- Tonight's episode of NBC's "ER," written by Dee Johnson, associates nursing with embarrassingly invasive or unpleasant procedures whose value viewers are unlikely to see. Meanwhile physicians direct the obviously key treatment, demonstrate the important knowledge, conduct the dramatic patient relations, and get all credit for patient outcomes. In the episode, "Alone in a Crowd," a stroke patient discounts nurse character Sam Taggart's reassuring smile because "she's the nurse, maybe she doesn't know" how bad the patient's condition is. We see little in the show to contradict this view. Later, Taggart acknowledges to the stroke patient that another patient's incontinence brief is "pretty stinky," and cheerfully says "welcome to my world" as she goes to change it. The episode is a stroke edutainment vehicle, and it features a virtual ad for the Merci blood clot retrieval system, but the message it sends millions of viewers about nurses is far less glowing. In fact, it's pretty stinky. Welcome to our world. more...


The Power and the Glory

February 3, 2005 -- Tonight's episode of NBC's "ER," physician Lisa Zwerling's "Middleman," offered its 18 million viewers a compelling, nuanced endorsement of physician dominance in hospital care, showing why "ER" is simply without a peer in fostering disinformation and disrespect as to other highly skilled caregivers. The episode follows the tragic results when a social worker fails to prevail upon an impatient ED resident, whose authority supposedly "trumps" hers, to allow her to finish assessing an abused child. It reinforces the idea that physicians do and should direct all hospital care by showing what can happen when their awesome power is abused. But it does not question that power. Instead, an authoritative attending physician and even the social worker herself underline the supposed hierarchy's value. more...

"The Nurse with the Purse"

by Nurse Seuss

December 2, 2004 -- Tonight's episode of NBC's "ER," physician Joe Sachs' "A Shot in the Dark," did not feature much work by the show's nursing characters. But it did show lots of exciting, important nursing--performed by the physician characters. From educating patients to helping families with life-changing care decisions, from discharge planning to meeting critical patients in the ambulance bay--whenever the show's shortage of major nurse characters threatened to leave patient needs unmet, physician characters stepped in, taking the responsibility, credit and blame. See our take off on "The Cat in the Hat Comes Back"...


Tale of Two ED's

November 18, 2004 -- It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Tonight's episode of NBC's "ER," Lydia Woodward's "White Guy, Dark Hair," was in some ways a surprisingly good showcase for the show's sole major nurse character Sam Taggart. The Taggart character actually provided autonomous nursing care, teaching and advocacy to a critically injured rape victim. Sadly, these unusually positive elements were undermined by significant physician-centric elements that the show just can't seem to get past--almost as if the episode featured two different ED's. It would not have taken much revision to fix most of the problems here, but as usual, it probably would have taken meaningful nursing advice on the script. more...


My Life As a Dog


Bad Nurse, No Donut!

November 4, 2004 -- Tonight's episode of NBC's "ER," physician Lisa Zwerling's "An Intern's Guide to the Galaxy," was in most respects a standard one. It focused on the training of new physicians, showing physicians doing tasks that nurses do in real life, and suggesting that nurses are peripheral to important ED care. But one thing really caught our attention: the episode's lighthearted but repeated suggestion that an intern might purchase more responsive work from nurses by periodically feeding them sweets, as if nurses worked for physicians and their patient care was akin to the tricks a dog might perform for treats. The silliness of this plotline is matched only by its contempt for nursing. Woof! Woof! more...


Physicians do the nursing, while male nurses get their pink on

October 14, 2004 -- In tonight's episode of NBC's "ER," physician characters spend significant time providing important care that nurses do in real life, but can't do on "ER" because the one major nurse character is consumed with personal issues, and every other major character is a physician. In this episode, entitled "Try Carter" and written by R. Scott Gemmill, that means that nearly 17 million impressionable viewers were told once again that nurses are marginal and physicians do everything of significance in the ED. Well, not quite everything: the only male characters we saw wearing pink patterned scrubs or breastfeeding were nurses. more...



October 7, 2004 -- Tonight's episode of NBC's "ER," written by David Zable, focuses on the transition of new ED intern Abby Lockhart from her prior role as an ED nurse, which leads to tension with the other ED nurses. The episode sheds some light on the nurse-physician relationship, with the show's veteran minor nurse characters playing unusually large roles. Unfortunately, the episode is still physician-centric, and it strongly reinforces the notion that hospital nurses report to physicians. That's dead wrong, and given "ER"'s proven influence on millions of viewers, we see it as a big problem. more...


In art-imitates-life shocker, NBC's "ER" follows example of nearby real-life hospital, naming nurse as emergency services director

June 7, 2004 -- A short item in the business section of today's News Press, a Southern California paper affiliated with the Los Angeles Times, reported that nurse Debra Brown had been named emergency services director of North Glendale's Verdugo Hills Hospital. In what appeared to be an astonishing coincidence, a nurse character is elevated to the same position on tonight's special episode of NBC's popular television show "ER"--which is filmed in nearby Burbank. more...


The Swan, M.D.

May 13, 2004 -- Looks like our little Abby has finally made something of herself. On tonight's season finale of NBC's "ER," executive producer Dee Johnson's "Drive," nurse Abby Lockhart learns that she has passed her medical boards, finally achieving what she and the show itself have longed for. It was a fitting end to a season in which the show exhaustively chronicled the medical school experiences and future plans of Lockhart and colleague Neela Rasgotra, while (as it has for ten seasons) ignoring the professional development of nurses, with recent plotlines involving lone major nurse character Sam Taggart centering almost entirely on her personal life. more...


"ER" and the patient advocate

February 26, 2004 -- Tonight's episode of NBC's "ER," written by Bruce Miller, was one of the show's better recent episodes for nursing, as major character Sam Taggart advocated for patients in several situations, displaying substantive knowledge and a concern for patients' overall wellbeing that is one of the hallmarks of nursing. Unfortunately, the presentation of Taggart's advocacy was problematic, and other aspects of the episode continued to promote the idea that nurses are skilled assistants to physicians. more...


American Journal of Nursing publishes our "Viewpoint"

February 2004 -- The American Journal of Nursing published an op-ed on our "ER" campaign in this month's issue. The piece was written by executive director Sandy Summers and senior advisor Harry Jacobs Summers. see the op-ed


Nursing: good enough for media feminists' mothers, but not their daughters?

February 14, 2004 -- In a cover story in this week's TV Guide, the makers of NBC's "ER" claim credit for a huge upsurge in the number of female ED physicians, even as they deny any responsibility for the nursing shortage that now threatens the lives of ED patients. Mary Murphy's flattering profile, "The Women Who Revived 'ER,'" amounts to an argument that the characters played by actresses Maura Tierney (nurse/medical student Abby Lockhart), Parminder Nagra (medical student Neela Rasgotra), and Linda Cardellini ("strident" nurse Sam Taggart) have reinvigorated a veteran show that had already increased female empowerment in the ranks of real ED physicians. Though two of these three characters are nurses, the article ignores nursing. more...


"ER" nurse characters are suddenly mad that everyone thinks they're just handmaidens of physicians. But that doesn't mean they'd date anyone else!

February 5, 2004 -- Tonight's episode of NBC's "ER," credited to R. Scott Gemill--who also wrote the disastrous October 9 "Dear Abby"--includes several elements that seem specifically designed to show sensitivity to nurses' concerns about the show's damaging misportrayal of their profession. We salute the effort. But sadly, the episode itself is full of damaging anti-nurse distortions, proving that there's only so much "ER" can do to overcome its overwhelmingly physician-centric approach without more major nurse characters and meaningful advice from real nurses. more...


Dear "ER": some protests more equal than others?

January 16, 2004 -- One plotline in the January 22, 2004 "ER" episode "Dear Abby," originally broadcast on October 9, 2003, sparked a letter of protest from the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA), which argued that the show's inaccurate portrayal of pulmonary hypertension as offering only a "slow and agonizing death" had a "very negative and disturbing impact" on sufferers and their families. In stark contrast to "ER"'s refusal even to respond to the many nurses who have written at our urging to protest this same episode's damaging misportrayal of nursing, "ER" story editor and physician Lisa Zwerling wrote a substantive response to PHA. more...


Physician-Intensive Care Unit

January 15, 2004 -- Tonight's episode of NBC's "ER," credited to story editor and physician Lisa Zwerling, follows medical students Abby Lockhart and Neela Rasgotra on a harrowing rotation in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) that seems to be staffed mainly by physicians and medical students, rather than the highly skilled nurses who do it in real life. In this physician-intensive care unit, one of the two nurse characters is a battle-axe who leaves the impression that veteran NICU nurses are petty martinets obsessed with rules and terrorizing medical students, whereas the noble medical staff provides not only most of the bedside care, but virtually all the emotional support to the agitated parents. more...


Masters and commanders: physicians sail the roiling ED

January 8, 2004 -- "Hollywood has no obligation to be accurate whatsoever." That was the reported reaction of "ER" medical advisor Mark Morocco to the 2002 Kaiser Family Foundation study showing how seriously viewers take the show's depiction of health care. This attitude also seems to be reflected in the show's refusal even to respond to the many nurses who have written recently to object to its damaging misportrayal of nursing. more...


Our "ER" campaign earns extensive press coverage in print and broadcast outlets

December 30, 2003 -- Following our distribution of a press release on November 10, numerous print and broadcast outlets have covered our campaign to persuade the NBC show "ER" to portray nursing more fairly. more...


"ER": the nurse as physicians' Girl Friday

November 20, 2003 -- Tonight's episode of NBC's "ER," credited to supervising producer and physician Joe Sachs, included more divisive, damaging comparisons of nurses and physicians. Guess which group looked smarter, stronger and more important, and which looked more sensitive, empathetic and common sense-oriented. more...


Death, Taxes and Handmaidens

November 14, 2003 -- In its November 13 episode, "ER" continues its tentative efforts to treat nursing with respect when it's no trouble and doesn't threaten the show's physician-centric worldview, but persistently indulges in damaging inaccuracies and stereotypes when that seems more convenient. more...


Boo! "ER"'s Abby Lockhart abandons nursing for medical school, as newcomer Samantha Taggart assumes lone nurse role

October 31, 2003 -- In a Halloween eve plotline that's more trick than treat for nurses, TV's influential "ER" effectively suggested that nurses advance by attending medical school, continuing the show's long tradition of virtually ignoring the nation's 200,000 advanced practice nurses, and the fact that recent data suggest nurses who obtain graduate education are at least 50 times more likely to do so in nursing than medicine. more...


Stop me before I empathize again: only trying to help nurses, October 9 "ER" instead sets new world record for harmful inaccuracies and distortions

October 10, 2003 -- In perhaps the most significant "ER" for nursing ever, a standard misfortune-pileup episode--about a bad day for nurse Abby Lockhart--sends a series of destructive, grossly inaccurate messages about nursing. more...


Our September 2002 letter to "ER" producers

September 10, 2002 -- Our organization sends a letter discussing the treatment of nursing in the latter half of the 2001-2002 season to the makers of "ER." Comments and suggestions on how to make the television show more nurse-friendly are included in the letter. see the letter


Our seven suggestions to "ER" in December 2001 letter

December 6, 2001 -- Our organization sends a letter following up on its November 2001 conference call with one of the producers and the medical advisor of "ER." We make seven specific suggestions; on how "ER" can improve its portrayal of nursing. see the letter


Our organization and the ENA discuss portrayal of nursing with makers of "ER"

November 21, 2001 -- Members of our organization, three presidents from the Emergency Nurses Association and professors from Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing have a one-hour conference call with an "ER" producer and the show's medical advisor. The discussion centered on how "ER" could improve its portrayal of nursing, especially in view of the extent to which negative media portrayals of nurses affect the nursing shortage. The call was arranged in response to a letter we sent on October 10, 2001 (Emergency Nurses Day) to Executive Producer John Wells. see the letter


Our organization requests conference call with "ER"

October 10, 2001 -- Emergency Nurses Day -- In concern over how the negative portrayal of nurses is affecting the nursing shortage, we sent a letter to "ER"'s Executive Producer John Wells asking that we set up a conference call to discuss some of our concerns about how the nursing profession is portrayed on "ER." see the letter...


Read our "ER" review


Bullet point list of problems with "ER"'s portrayal of nursing to help you frame your letter to the makers of "ER"


Letters to ER

October 10, 2001

December 6, 2001

September 10, 2002

October 10, 2003

Letters from nursing leaders to "ER"

October 30, 2003

November 20, 2003

June 7, 2004

2005 "ER" sponsors campaign

Part I, Part II

letter to sponsors

September 14, 2006

September 28, 2006

November 9, 2006

September 13, 2007

November 8, 2007



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