July 21, 2020

ER 6.16, Under Control: Fatal Mistakes and Other Life-or-Death Decisions

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 4:59 pm by Jenn

Get it, Chen

Summary: Mark and David are repairing a slide projector before Mark has to go to work. He tells David that he set up an appointment for him with an oncologist. David doesn’t want to see any doctors, since he was told back in San Diego that his cancer is untreatable. Over at Elizabeth’s, Isabelle is packing to go back to England. Elizabeth finds one of David’s socks, making her wonder if he only wore one home. Isabelle says she’s enjoyed being single all these years, and she’d like to know what would make Elizabeth happy in her own life.

Carter is back at work for the first time since he was stabbed. He’s on crutches for another week or so, which means he won’t be very fast on trauma cases. Also, I’m sure he’s mentally fine returning to the place where he almost died, and where his co-worker DID die. But it’s not like anyone from psych will be able to help him anyway, since they’re incompetent. Anyway, Mark is the highest-ranking doctor in the ER, which is swamped since it’s Saturday and clinics are closed. Dave still has time to flirt with Chen, though.

Chuny brings an ICU nurse named Frank to the ER after he passed out while working. Haleh tells Mark that patients keep leaving without being seen, since the wait time is so long. Mark goes back to his old trick from “A Shift in the Night,” grabbing a cart and a couple of helpers to do “power rounds.” He goes through the exam rooms to catch up on cases and make fast decisions about treatments.

A man named Adam is brought in after trying to kill himself with a Benadryl overdose. Carol has to take a call from her new nanny, who seems less competent at childcare than psych does at seeing patients. Abby examines a man named Kim who has colon cancer that has probably spread. She offers him some morphine to keep him comfortable while they wait for his lab work to come back.

Chen wants Frank to stay on a heart monitor for a while, though he insists he’s fine. Chen gets momentarily distracted by his bare chest. Frank says he passed out because he ran 12 miles before work; it’s not a big deal. Dave watches, amused, as Chen strikes up a conversation with Frank. I’m surprised Dave isn’t jealous that the woman he keeps flirting with is attracted to someone else. Mark complains to Elizabeth that David’s driving him crazy about repairing the projector and not discussing treatment options. He doesn’t tell her that David was diagnosed with cancer.

Patients keep coming in, and the ER is running out of beds, but Mark won’t take Elizabeth’s suggestion to close to critical cases. Adam is having seizures, and Carter struggles to intubate him without causing himself pain. He determines that Adam will need dialysis. Mark and Elizabeth prepare to work together on a patient who was shot, but Mark quickly realizes that he can’t be saved. They talk Abby through a procedure that will keep him eligible to donate his organs. Abby struggles with it, and Mark wants to let her keep trying, but Elizabeth steps in to take over.

A nephrologist disagrees with Carter’s assessment that Adam needs dialysis, even though Carter has read about a patient in this exact situation who was saved with dialysis. The other doctor refuses to put the patient at risk for complications. After he leaves, Carter decides he knows enough to do what’s needed himself – he can write the orders. Carol agrees to get a nephrology nurse she knows to go along with the plan. Seems like Carol misses going rogue with Doug.

Mark and Abby join Chen to work on a patient who soon needs more care than just having his heart shocked – the defibrillation causes him to catch on fire. Frank comes to help out. Mark knows him and calls him Rambo, his nickname from Desert Storm. Chen is absolutely mentally undressing him right now. Carter tells Mark how he’s treating Adam, skipping over the part where he’s ignoring the nephrologist’s instructions. Mark checks on Robert, the possible organ donor (I think that’s his name. It’s what I’m going with, anyway), but the police haven’t been able to find his family to get their consent. Mark thinks Elizabeth is being unrealistic about keeping him alive.

Carol deals with her nanny again, then goes back to Carter. Dori (the nurse who’s played by a Real Housewife) has a question about the patient’s care, and when she says she’ll have to clarify the instructions with the nephrologist, Carol comes clean about going behind his back. Dori refuses to participate, even when Carter offers to take full responsibility. Mark comes in, overhearing part of the conversation, and pulls Carter out of the room to berate him. If Carter wants to bend the rules, he needs to tell Mark so Mark can be the bad guy.

A woman named Pilar brings in her baby, Estrella, who’s been having seizures. Mark tends to her, asking Chuny to remove the mother from the trauma room. Chen checks in on Frank, then helps Abby with a procedure Mark was supposed to walk her through on Kim. It seems to go fine, but then Kim complains of pain. Frank, who’s in the next bed over, suggests that Abby get a chest x-ray.

Mark tries to save Estrella while giving Carter orders for Adam’s treatment. Frank looks at his own test results at the front desk, determining that he doesn’t have any serious medical problems. Chen sends him back to bed, and Frank jokes that she just wants to keep him around. Dave complains to Randi about him, and Randi mocks him for eating cereal out of an emesis basin. Carol figures out (but doesn’t tell him) that the milk he stole from the lounge fridge for his cereal is her breast milk.

Mark hasn’t been able to revive Estrella, but he steps away while Chuny keeps working so he can deal with Robert’s case. Elizabeth still wants to keep him alive until his family can be found. Benton tells Kim that Abby accidentally perforated his colon. If he has surgery to repair the damage, it’ll take him a couple of months to recover – months Kim doesn’t have. Without the surgery, Kim will probably develop an infection he wouldn’t recover from.

Estrella is still unstable, and her lab work doesn’t give Mark any information about what’s wrong with her. They’ve been working on her so long with no change that Mark decides there’s nothing else they can do. Kim tells Benton he doesn’t want surgery, which means his only treatment option is antibiotics. Abby thinks there should be a better fix for her mistake, but Benton reminds her that she has to respect her patient’s wishes. She argues that Kim is going to die because she screwed up. Benton reminds her that, with end-stage cancer, Kim is going to die either way.

Chuny tries to explain to Pilar that Estrella is dead, but Pilar insists that there’s more Mark can do for her. Mark gently talks her out of her denial. Things start to pick up in the ER again, so Frank jumps in to help out. Abby tells Mark about Kim, though Mark’s already heard the details from Benton. Abby says that Chen supervised her, but Mark points out that she didn’t give Chen a full history; if she had, Chen would have told her to place her needle in a different spot. Kim now has a fever, and Abby thinks he’s septic. She wants to sit with him, since he doesn’t have a family, but the ER’s too busy for that.

Dave brings a patient to Mark for help getting a Gila monster off his hand. Malik declines to help if it means he has to get near the lizard. Mark and Dave get the lizard to detach its teeth from the patient’s hand without hurting the reptile. Mark then goes back to Elizabeth, where she’s trying to stabilize Robert. Mark tells her to declare him dead already; there’s no point in using up time and resources to save him. Elizabeth stabilizes Robert and doesn’t agree to Mark’s orders.

Carol tells Mark that Estrella tested positive for amphetamines. They ask Pilar if someone might have given the baby drugs. Pilar admits that she sometimes takes drugs to stay awake, since she works two jobs, but she never brings them home. Carol realizes that Pilar passed the drugs to Estrella through her breast milk. Pilar is devastated that her actions accidentally killed her child.

Elizabeth tries to get in touch with Isabelle, since they were supposed to meet for coffee before Isabelle left. Yosh gives her a message Isabelle left earlier – she took an earlier flight and is already on her way home. Frank helps run the board, proving to be more helpful than some of the staff members who usually work in the ER, Dave. David comes in with shortness of breath that he thinks is just from a cold. Mark examines him and determines that he has fluid in his lungs. When Elizabeth joins them, David asks her to be his doctor instead of Mark.

The guy who was formerly attached to the Gila monster is now crashing from the lizard’s venom. Super Frank is there to help save the day. He smells smoke, which Lily guesses is from her patient’s stupidity at thinking you can smoke in a hospital. Haleh pulls Mark away to deal with another patient as Randi tells him that there’s a psych patient threatening to jump from a window on the third floor. Mark just tells her to clear a trauma room. Things get more and more hectic, with people coming to Mark while he’s trying to deal with traumas. Maybe the ER needs more doctors?

David tells Elizabeth about his cancer and his decision not to receive any treatments. He doesn’t want to spend the last few weeks or months of his life sick and hooked up to machines. Frank lets Abby know that Kim died; for some reason, no one bothered to tell her. Finally, the ER gets another doctor when Weaver arrives for the night shift. But then they also get another patient when Frank passes out again.

Carter tries to help Mark and Weaver as they tend to the psych patient who jumped out the window. Carol’s nanny calls yet again, unable to take care of crying babies, so Carol steps away from the trauma to sing “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” to Kate. Mark questions her choice of lullaby, but Carol says it works. Mark spots Elizabeth chatting with David through the window, then goes back to trying to save his patient.

By the time Luka comes in for the night shift, things in the ER are calm. The incompetent nanny brings in Carol’s twins, who are also calm now. Chen has Frank admitted for treatment for Addison’s disease, a hormonal disorder. Chen tells Dave she may go visit him later. (Spoiler: She’ll be doing a lot more than visiting him.) Elizabeth finally declares Robert dead, regretting that his organs will go to waste. She asks Mark why he didn’t tell her about David’s cancer. She respects his decision not to seek treatment, no matter whose father he is. She tells Mark to just be there for him, but Mark wants to do more.

Abby goes to the morgue to practice inserting central lines and is saddened to see that the body she’ll be practicing on is Kim’s. She struggles to do the procedure, but she asks the pathologist for help and keeps going. Weaver asks Carter if he’s still experiencing a lot of pain, since he seemed to be having a hard time getting around in the trauma room. She can tell he’s not doing as well physically or emotionally as he’s letting on, but Carter makes it clear that he doesn’t want to talk about it.

On their way out of the hospital, Mark notices that David’s shoelace is untied. David can’t bend over after a procedure Elizabeth did on him, so Mark kneels to tie it himself, reversing their roles as father and son. Benton and Cleo play pool together and make out, I guess to show us that their relationship is progressing, because there’s really no other point to this scene.

Carter is now back on good terms with Millicent and has stopped by the family mansion after work. He tells her he’s back at work and confides that he wasn’t sure he would make it through the day. He was scared that he couldn’t handle it. Millicent’s proud that he got through it and now respects him for pursuing a career in medicine. They used to have chats all the time when he was in high school, and now it seems they’re getting back to that.

David was able to repair the projector, so he and Mark look at some slides at home. Little Mark had very blond hair. He wanted to grow a watermelon tree, so he would sneak watermelon seeds into his mother’s flower garden. David stops on a picture of Mark and David together and wonders why Ruth took it. Mark says she must have liked what she saw.

Thoughts: Frank is played by Morris Chestnut. He would have made a great regular character.

This is another one of those episodes designed to show us that one of the doctors is really good at his job but can’t do anything to help a family member. Dear show: We get it.

If you’re going to call for help every time the baby you’re looking after won’t stop crying, nannying isn’t for you. Carol should put the girls in the hospital’s daycare.

1 Comment »

  1. Nick Rivers said,

    Frank got a much better introduction to the show than Cleo did and she’s a regular player. What the hell? (Yes, he should have been added to the cast after Carol left.)

    I thought Malucci was jealous of Frank at first with regards to Chen, but after awhile it seemed he was more bemused by it all. I give him credit for not being a jerk about it all… though to be fair, he had no call to be a jerk in the first place because it’s not like he’s really interested in a relationship with Chen anyway. So yeah.

    I do so enjoy the episodes where Mark is in charge of massive triage situations and is dealing with emergency management, more or less. I’d forgotten this was one of those. He does nearly crack at one point but that’s to be expected and he probably should have barked at everybody to get in line instead. Nobody can handle being peppered with questions left and right like he was out in the main area. Flashbacks to Dr. Alan Alda (forgot his character’s name) when he was kind of spinning in circles with five people yammering at him all at once, even though the Alzheimer’s was more of an issue there.

    They didn’t draw a lot of parallels between Kim’s case and David’s case, but maybe they should have. Here’s a guy who’s actively dying of his cancer and is very uncomfortable, though to be fair he did try chemo first. I thought it was sweet that David wanted Elizabeth as his doctor and it was probably the right call anyway because I don’t think Mark would have been able to separate son from doctor in his case.

    Someone ought to tip off Benton that Carter isn’t doing as well as he seems, especially since Benton is the only one Carter really listens to. It’s kind of cringy how Weaver tries to talk to Carter as if she genuinely cares about his emotional well-being because it just feels awkward and kind of false. I don’t think it is, but it comes off that way, because she’s not altogether good at this, though in other situations she’s right on the money (there’s a case I can’t recall, earlier in the series when she was newish to the show, dealing with a peds case/infant and Susan Lewis, and she was caring but firm in trying to calm Susan down about it all). I guess it just kind of surprises me how Weaver doesn’t pick up that her particular approach doesn’t always work with everyone. Maybe if she sat down next to the desk and started talking about her own struggles with getting around with the cane, then just saying “See ya” and walking off, that might resonate more with Carter.


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