Readers of this blog know that I kind of “go off” when I see a show on TV that misrepresents the role of nursing or is ridiculously medically inaccurate. That is why I love the show “Nurse Jackie” — the producers have amazing medical consultants who keep the show “real.”

There is a new show on the USA Network call “Complications” about an ER doctor whose life gets complicated as he inadvertently gets involved in the middle of a gang war by saving a gang leader’s child’s life. So I decided to check it out. (Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen the show and are planning to, read no more.)

In episode 1, main character Dr. John Ellison ends up being threatened that if he doesn’t do everything he can to keep the boy he saved alive (the child, who was targeted by a rival gang, is a son of a notorious gang kingpin currently incarcerated), the gang will kill Ellison and his family.

So I’m like, hmmm, the main character is a doctor married to a lawyer. They have lots of money. Why aren’t they, like, in Europe by now? My husband rolls his eyes at me and explains there would be no series if the main character leaves. OK, I guess he’s right, but still …  

The ER is a bit crazy and I let most of the ridiculous stuff go — until episode 5 where I am calling it quits. There is a huge gang war. Both sides show up in the ER. The substitute leader (Darius) for the gang that has Dr. Ellison under its thumb, shows up with gunshots to the leg. Handcuffed to his bed with a “Colombo” like police detective running around the ER, Darius “makes” Dr. Ellison get information from a fellow gang member. 

The problem is, the fellow gang member is being worked on by another doctor (Dr. Harper). So Dr. Ellison tells Dr. Harper that he found out the unconscious patient had a head injury and maybe he should order a head CT.  So Harper goes out of the room to do this (even though he was gloved and gowned and was picking glass and metal out of this guy’s skin) — instead of asking the nurse to do it. Like, when does that ever happen?

Dr. Ellison gets the nurse to leave on a ruse to fetch him something and with about 20 police running around and “Colombo,” nurses, doctors, patients etc. everywhere, he injects the patient with something to wake him up. He slaps the patient in the face a few times to make him alert and asks his question. 

This then leads to Darius needing to escape with Doc Ellison’s help (with bullets in his leg and bleeding like a leaky faucet) to go out and stop the gang war. However, Ellison then follows a blood trail and finds Darius slumped over in a corner (where no one else has seen him). So now Ellison takes him into a therapy room that just happens to be off the ER and diagnoses that the bullet has caused a hematoma that is pressing on the femoral artery. He will have to do emergency surgery in the PT room.

They don’t turn on any lights so they can keep hidden, and did I mention they’re doing surgery to remove a bullet by the femoral artery?! Darius refuses morphine so he can go out when they’re done and be alert. He grabs the pain killer from the doc and squirts it out.

Slicing and dicing occurs with scarcely a grunt. (Did I mention there are no lights and they are operating by an artery?) Before you know it, Darius is on his way.

Dr. Ellison goes back with only a pair of gloves to clean up the therapy room (like it should only be a small mess right?), with not a spot of blood on him. 

But wait, we don’t see how he sneaks out the hazardous waste or where he inappropriately puts it. But for some reason he recaps the needle on the syringe and puts that and the empty vial of morphine in his scrub pocket. This is apparently important as he sneaks in an ER treatment room and disposes of both in a sharps container so that the chief ER doc, his nemesis, can see him do it. This is apparently a huge plot twist. 

Really? You’re going to toss tons of bloody waste who knows where but you have to toss a clean syringe and empty vial of morphine in a sharps container (and recap a needle)? Did you hear that sound? My head just exploded!

Look guys, I see what you want to be when you grow up, but you all need to hire a medical advisor who actually has some medical experience. Really, it’s not that complicated.

Just (trying) to keep it real,

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.