Views & Reviews Review of the Week

Snorting and lunching

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 12 January 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c195
  1. James Owen Drife, emeritus professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, Leeds
  1. J.O.Drife{at}

    A sharply scripted US comedy about a New York nurse plays with the conventions of medical soap operas, finds Jim Drife

    In the days when emergency departments were called A&E I was, briefly, a junior casualty officer. Once, called to a young man held down by the Edinburgh constabulary, I said something like, “Release my patient, please.” The policemen exchanged glances and relaxed their grip just long enough for him to take a swipe at me and miss. Another lesson learnt.

    My mistake was not being a nurse in a US television series. When Nurse Jackie gave a similar command in an emergency room (ER) in New York the awestruck attendants stepped back and the patient burst into tears. He was angry, he sobbed, because the healthcare system had refused to insure his sick mother.

    Each 27 minute episode of Nurse Jackie (a “dark comedy drama”) covers a lot of ground. By the end of the pilot we had had enough misbehaviour from the title character (brilliantly played by Edie Falco, late of The Sopranos) to keep the UK Nursing & Midwifery Council …

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