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"ER" campaign hits Italian press

December 1, 2003 -- Today Italy's TV Sorrisi e Canzoni ran a piece by Antonio Mustara about issues facing "ER" in its tenth season, including the Center's campaign to persuade the show's producers to portray nursing more accurately.

The piece began by addressing the ratings challenges to the veteran show in the United States; evidently it remains very popular in Italy. The article then discussed the concerns of nurses that the show was contributing to the nursing shortage by running inaccurate plotlines, such as those suggesting that physicians have the authority to fire hospital nurses, and that nurses tend to pursue graduate education in medicine rather than nursing. The story also described the Canadian Institute for the Blind's objections to the plotline in which a patient suffering from macular degeneration committed suicide.

See "Mancano infermieri. Tutta colpa di 'E.R.'" in Italy's TV Sorrisi e Canzoni in the original Italian, or see below for a loose English translation of the article by Julie Semente, RN--who welcomes suggestions if readers feel the translaton is not quite accurate.

English translation of "Mancano infermieri. Tutta colpa di 'E.R.'" in Italy's TV Sorrisi e Canzoni by Julie Semente, RN.

The well-known first-aiders of the world seem to be in crisis. And if what we hear is true, in America, they are continuing to decrease. As if that were not enough, the nursing associations have hurled themselves against this celebrated serial TV show. They say the show discourages those who may want to pursue the profession.

There is no peace in America for "ER" and its producers. After having to yield to "CSI" two years ago, the supremacy of the more dramatic television show we note, this season the NBC series has the advantage over just "Without A Trace", its rival which airs in the same hour on CBS. From the 1995 records, 35 million viewers have decreased 40% to 21 million, while its 23 Emmy nominations of 1994 are but a far-off memory (this year they have only three).

The signs of age, however, do not prevent "ER" from still being the most-watched program on NBC and one of the most sought after by advertisers.

"ER"'s problems are adding up, in the last few weeks, the authors note the protests of two irritated organizations:

The "Center for Nursing Advocacy"--an agency created to promote the nursing profession, has accused "ER" of being one of the main causes of the shortage of nurses in America. The drama that is represented as true reality in the show is a disincentive to Americans considering entering nursing school. Under attack is one of the last episodes in which Romano fires and replaces some nurses in a strike, but the decision of head-nurse Abby to resume studies to become a doctor is also criticized.

The Center, which is based in Baltimore (Maryland), has initiated a protest campaign with mass emails and letters to NBC and Warner.

Some days later, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind began its protest. It was provoked by a recent episode in which a person afflicted with degenerative eye disease commits suicide. According to the president of the Institute, "ER" is guilty of having sent a dangerous message to the (many) persons who, every year, are hit with the same disease.



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