I promise this is not going to turn into a blog about how I feel about various hospital dramas. But, since it’s the long weekend, and I chose to kick-off the heat wave by staying in my room with the lights off and the blinds drawn watching the entire first season of Mercy (which Hulu finally posted in its entirety), now is my only chance for me to extol the virtues of this show.
First off, aside from the love triangle between Iraq-veteran nurse Veronica, her estranged husband Mike, and her war-time lover Dr. Sands, I feel like Mercy gives a more realistic view of what goes on in a hospital than say, a certain well-reviewed TV documentary.
People make mistakes, the doctors are sometimes arrogant assholes, and despite the requisite amount of medical drama, a lot of really ordinary hospital things happen.
One of my favorite Veronica scenes starts with her teasing Angel and Chole because they have to go back to work in the busy Emergency Department.
“Oh, sucks for you guys. We’re half-full up here. Hey can you hear that? That’s the soothing sound of the ICU at night,” she says.
“No bullets,” Sonia, the other ICU nurse, adds.
“No body lice,” agrees V.
“No feces being hurled through the air,” says Sonia.
“Just the soothing sound of oxygen being pumped through the lungs of the elderly,” finishes V.
What’s that? Nothing exciting happening in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital? I know, most shows would have you believe that the ICU is where everything exciting happen, rather than a Last Stop for the elderly. Not only that, but that the ED is actually over-run with gun shot wound victims, homeless people and aggressive patients. Actually, later in the episode there are a lot of aggressive patients as the Mercy team look after a bunch of inmates injured in a prison brawl.
Okay, so hospitals having to look after prison inmates is maybe not an everyday thing–it’s still a scripted TV drama–but as a study that ran recently in the Journal of Nursing Administration concluded, violence against nurses in the Emergency Department is highly prevalent. Of the nurses that participated in the study, 25 per cent reported suffering from more than 20 instances of physical violence in the past three years.
In another episode, Veronica looks after a patient with a heart condition, but no insurance. Though the condition–a heart murmur–is incapacitating and would certainly lead to multiple repeat ED visits, it is not immediately life threatening, preventing the Mercy team from cracking open his chest and fixing the problem. The sexy Dr. Joe Briggs (also known as Dawson Leery) launches into a pitch-perfect tirades about the absurdity of the system:
“Before we can kick Mr. Maldonado to the curb, the least we can do is formulate an aftercare plan for him. I recommend bacon-double cheeseburgers BID [twice a day], that way, assuming he doesn’t die on the way to the hospital, we can spend tens of thousands of dollars doing emergency open-heart surgery on him. Does that sound like a fantastic way to spend our time and tax dollars? I’m disappointed. You know, in Mr. Maldonado, for not having the good sense to go into heart failure before he got here. That way we could have actually helped him. AT THE HOSPITAL!”
Once again, this episode might not have the most realistic story arc, but at least it delves into actual issues, rather than what the oh-so-glossed-over view Boston Med presents, where the most difficult issue the Best Hospitals in the World face is being way too awesome.