Reviews TV

ER blamed for nursing shortage

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 27 November 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:1294
  1. Jeanne Lenzer (
  1. Kingston, New York, USA

    The top rated television show ER, now in its tenth season, is the target of a letter writing campaign by nurses who say that the show's depiction of them is demeaning. Such a negative portrayal, they say, is contributing to the critical shortage of nurses in the United States.

    The show is wildly popular with audiences around the world. Twenty million US viewers alone tune in every week to watch, for example, patients with gunshot wounds or terminal cancer, or wealthy hypochondriacs pouring in through the doors of a level one trauma hospital in Chicago. The care of patients in ER always triggers ethical conundrums. Tempers flare. Doctors clash. In the end, the right thing is not always done.

    The issues that the show tackles have long made it a target of advocacy groups. Anti-vaccination campaigners and advocates for blind people have protested about segments of ER. Now nurses are …

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