January 22, 2019

ER 3.6, Fear of Flying: Malpractice Makes Perfect

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 4:54 pm by Jenn

How do these doctors not get sued more often?

Summary: Susan and Mark are about to fly out to a trauma scene on a helicopter, and Susan is less than enthusiastic. She doesn’t have a choice, though, since participating is a requirement for her residency. William tries to explain string theory to Carol at Doc Magoo’s, but she, like me, has no idea what he’s talking about. Mark enjoys the scenery during the helicopter flight, trying to convince Susan to open her eyes. They come to the trauma scene, a bad car crash, and see that they’re the first medical responders.

Things are chaotic at County, where Jeanie’s patient, Mr. Brazil, has some interesting plans for what happens to him after he dies: He wants to be cryogenically frozen. His wife already has been, so he’ll be able to join her. Mr. Brazil’s caretaker tells Jeanie that the couple wanted to be preserved together so they can eventually come back, “just like those dinosaurs in that movie.” Well, yeah. That worked out well for everyone.

The nurses are especially swamped, partly because Haleh’s on vacation. A floater is coming down to fill in, but Lydia doesn’t have high hopes about that; the last time they had a floater, she spent her shift hiding in the bathroom. When they learn that the floater is Rhonda Sterling, Lydia and Chuny refuse to babysit her, knowing that since she’s a floor nurse, she won’t know what she’s doing in the ER.

At the accident scene, Susan tries to tend to three patients, a woman named Gail and her two children. Her daughter, who’s only ten days old, seems mostly fine, but Gail and her son Zach have some injuries. Mark declares the other driver dead, then moves on to try to help Gail’s husband, David. As paramedics and firefighters arrive, Mark summons Susan over to help with David. She tells him the rest of the family is stable.

Jerry’s making sports bets, which would appear to be the dumb sub-sub-subplot of the week, but it’s actually not. Rhonda arrives in the midst of the ER chaos, almost as unenthusiastic about working there as Susan was about flying. Zach stops breathing, so Susan rushes back to him and intubates him. She and the other flight physician she’s working with don’t have the proper tools to do everything they need to do.

Rhonda can’t get an IV started, so she asks Doyle to do it. Carol tells her that nurses in the ER try a few times before turning to a doctor. She’s quickly growing annoyed with Rhonda’s methods and lack of knowledge about ER procedures. As Zach and David are about to be taken to County in the helicopter, Susan takes a moment to tell Gail that she’ll get word to her as soon as she knows their conditions.

The nurses at County prepare for David and Zach’s arrivals as Mr. Brazil’s caretaker says her final goodbye to his body. She asks Jeanie and Connie to keep his body cold until the cryogenic-storage people can come get it. Connie wonders if she should clear out the fridge. Mark and Susan deliver their patients to the ER, and Carol and Doug start taking care of Zach. Rhonda is way behind the curve, and I don’t get why they even brought her into the trauma room.

Susan asks Lydia to track down Gail at whatever hospital she’s being taken to, so Susan can keep in touch with her. A medication mix-up, thanks to Rhonda, leads Carol to accidentally inject Zach with a small amount of potassium. Doug decides that it’s not enough to cause damage, stopping the two women from panicking. Carter comes in for an assessment and gives Keaton all the proper information. He’s completely on top of things, impressing Doug. Next door, David wakes up but doesn’t remember being in the accident.

Carol chastises Rhonda for her mistake, saying she has no business working in the ER. This isn’t news to Rhonda. She’s assigned to restock supplies for the rest of her shift. Jeanie tells Mark about Mr. Brazil and how she’s supposed to figure out the logistics with the cryogenics company. I don’t think medical school prepared Mark for having to deal with this type of situation. Susan learns that Gail and the baby are still at the accident scene, so she may have to fly back out to get them.

Keaton and Benton operate on Zach, with an assist from Carter. Keaton’s pleased with all the steps Benton plans to take. As Susan is called back up on the helicopter, Jeanie starts covering Mr. Brazil’s body in ice. This is the dumb sub-sub-subplot of the week. Doyle doubts that the body will stay cold until a rep from the cryogenics company can arrive. Mark offers to take Susan’s place on the helicopter, but she says she’s okay to suck it up and fly again.

As soon as Zach is out of surgery, Keaton invites Benton to join her for another procedure. Carter thinks she’s awesome. Gail and the baby, Megan, finally arrive at County, and Megan would like to speak to someone in charge about her horrible day. Jeanie and Doyle go across the street to Doc Magoo’s in search of more ice. Meanwhile, actual living patients just sit around the waiting room, totally fine with their ailments taking backseat to a corpse.

Gail’s injuries aren’t too bad, but her extended separation from her husband and kids is taking a toll on her. Gant tries to determine whether Megan needs surgery, but he can’t be sure – her abdomen may be distended because of an injury, or just because she’s been crying so much that she’s swallowed a lot of air. Benton takes over, criticizing Gant for not doing a full surgical evaluation. He decides that Megan needs surgery and at least softens long enough to explain things to Gail.

Gail’s distraught and wants David (a pediatrician) to decide whether they should consent to the surgery. Susan assures her that she’ll make the right decision. After she gives consent, Doug tells Benton that Gant was doing fine with his assessment before Benton barged in. When Keaton joins the group, she tells Gant that missing Megan’s injury was an easy mistake to make. She invites him to scrub in on her surgery.

Jeanie and Doyle are finishing up with Mr. Brazil’s icing when a cryogenics rep arrives to transport his body. He tells the women to give Mr. Brazil heparin, but Jeanie isn’t sure she should obey, since the rep doesn’t appear to be a doctor. Doyle points out that the heparin won’t hurt Mr. Brazil, since he’s, you know, already dead. Keaton, Benton, and Gant operate on Megan, discovering that she has an additional injury they didn’t see earlier.

David appears to be doing better, but Mark and Susan quickly determine that he has a problem with his short-term memory. Carter summons Keaton to help with Zach, who’s getting worse in recovery, so Keaton leaves Benton to finish Megan’s operation on his own. He sees something on the surface of her liver and decides he can clear it out himself. This leads to some bleeding, so Benton has to change his plans. Gant is uncertain about helping out.

Keaton figures out what Zach’s problem is and fixes it without any further medical intervention. Carter’s so in love with her. Things are going downhill with Megan, but Benton won’t let anyone go get Keaton. Eventually things get bad enough that he gives in and lets Gant go. Mark and Susan tell Gail that while David’s tests are okay, he has some memory loss; it’s probably just temporary, and a normal complication with a concussion.

Keaton returns to Megan’s OR and finishes her surgery, annoyed with Benton for his screw-up. Mark and Susan take Gail to take David, who’s starting to recover his memories of the accident. Keaton yells at Benton as she rushes to save Megan. While Mark and Susan are weird and awkward around each other for no apparent reason, Carol tells Rhonda that she can’t work in the ER again. I don’t think Rhonda’s too upset about that. Susan takes Gail to see Zach, who hasn’t regained consciousness yet after surgery. Gail hasn’t heard anything about Megan, so Susan goes to gather information.

Megan’s out of surgery but isn’t doing well. Keaton blames herself for leaving Benton unsupervised, though the real problem is that Benton ignored her instructions. He denies that he did; he did the same thing he’s done with other patients. Keaton reminds him that infants are different from other patients. He’s new to pediatric surgery, so he doesn’t know what he’s doing yet. He should have called her as soon as there was a problem. If Megan dies, Keaton will be held responsible, but it’ll be Benton’s fault.

Megan starts crashing, and when Benton tries to help Keaton with her, Keaton says it’s no longer a teaching case. She doesn’t want to take the baby back to the OR, but she can bring the OR to Megan. Mark gives David an update on Zach, but he doesn’t know anything about Megan. As David is taken to the ICU, Carol tells Mark that Megan’s crashing. He joins Susan outside the makeshift OR as Keaton is able to stabilize Megan. She tells Benton to accompany her to give an update to David and Gail.

Gant tries to sympathize with Benton, who doesn’t want to hear his half-hearted “we’re all human; we all make mistakes.” Gant takes a different tack, telling Benton he’s a prick. Keaton tells Gail about Megan’s condition as Carter fails to hide a look of horror in the background. Keaton is honest with Gail, telling her it’s possible that Megan won’t survive. Benton says nothing, which is a good idea. He goes to the neonatal ICU and tries to say the Lord’s Prayer over Megan, but he can’t remember the words.

Thoughts: Rhonda is played by Jenny O’Hara.

I love this piece of trivia from IMDb: “The production team were worried that Standards and Practices wouldn’t allow Dr Dennis Gant to call Peter Benton a prick. However, this didn’t prove to be a problem because Standards and Practices clearly agreed with Gant.”

A round of applause to all the actors who had to do their scenes over the sound of Megan’s crying and screaming.

2 Comments »

  1. Nick Rivers said,

    David was played by Dwier Brown, who was Ray Kinsella’s ghostly father in Field of Dreams!

    “Hey, Dad? You wanna have a catch?”

    *cue tears*

  2. Emmy said,

    Yeah I had literally just say “you’re a dick!” to benton on my screen before Gant so…

    I think the weird moment between Mark and Susan may have been because she kissed him on the cheek before getting into the helicopter and he didn’t acknowledge it.


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