blame about knife : LUSENET : ER Discussions : One Thread

whats the big deal about who left the knife out and why? there must be a thousand things to kill someone with in an er if thats what you want to do.

-- tina tenney (, February 19, 2000


Umm... did you SEE the size of that knife? And the wound in Lucy's neck? That would have been more difficult to accomplish with any of the smaller scalpels that could possibly have been used...

-- L (, February 19, 2000.

Umm...I think I agree with Tina. There are things that can do as much damage as the knife. A scalpel can do plenty of damage if the person using it is intent enough. Hell, you caould kill someone with a pencil if you wanted to...

On the knife, it wans't left was IN the lounge! I also have a theory on why SO BIG of a knife...Remember the No-WEAVER cake? It was huge!

-- Marjorie (, February 19, 2000.

I don't think that the blame should be on whomever left the knife should be on the doctors who did not take Lucy seriously when she said that she thought the patient was a little whacko.

-- kelly (, February 19, 2000.

It should also be blamed on an ER having a Valentine Party with loud enough music to bring back the people who coded that day! i work in a hospital and there is no way in hell that you could pull off a party like that. We would all be looking for new jobs.:)

-- mckenzie (, February 19, 2000.

Playing the blame game...Personally, I really hope they don't drag this whole *Guilt and Blame* thing out forever. That sort of gets old in a hurry, in my opinion. Sure..everyone will feel some guilt...and everyone will look for someone to blame...for a *reason* for it all...because thats what we humans do. But, we also tend to rationalize pretty quickly, as a way to survive intact, that it just *happened*.

Think about is it that Lucy, the same Lucy who scoured Chicago looking for a donar, the Lucy who cajoled Romano into a risky heart transplant, the Lucy who MADE things go her way, was suddenly so inept, that he was unable to be the Lucy we knew? How is it that she could not get Psych downstairs, after all that time? How is it that she saw ONLY that patient? Those things were a bit out of character. If you ask me...and her own sudden loss of determination was her downfall.

Anyway...I am perhaps the only one who feels this way, from reading these boards...But I will NOT be happy to see half of next season turn into a pity party, the way That it did when Mark *transformed* after his beating. I quickly grew weary of that, and almost disenchanted with Mark, in general. I hope the guilt thing plays a small, and meaningful part in future shows, and then it dies.

-- Tres (, February 19, 2000.

Tres has a good point. Lucy has always been self-sufficient to a fault. For example going to Dr. Romano's house on Xmas to perform surgery on her patient. If Psych wouldnt come down for a consult -- Why didnt Lucy get Malik to babysit the patient while she physically dragged someone downstairs to the ER.

The problem with the blame game is this -- it doesnt bring back Lucy. Starting w/Carter, Greene, "the knife," Psych... etc. there are any number of ways to blame people for the incident. The bottom line is, nobody had any idea how agitated Paul was or how crazy he was -- not even his wife. When a a heinous crime is committed the friends and family also say, "he seemed so normal." Well Paul seemed normal enough.

-- judie (, February 19, 2000.

Clearly, none of you guys are plaintiff's personal injury lawyers... I would love to write the complaint for a lawsuit against the hosptial and staff. If the blame game was played in court -- no contest -- the hosptial would surely lose. There were so many fuck ups! My god... if Lucy's estate doesn't sue for wrongful death, and if Carter (via his insurance company) doesn't sue for negligence, then the hospital administration and supervisors would, essentially, be getting away with murder.

Let's not forget, folks, the murder and assault were committed by a floridly psychotic, paranoid, and delusional patient who came to the hospital because he was SICK and NEEDED HELP. However, the patient clearly did not receive the treatment he needed. The poor guy was first improperly diagnosed, was then subjected to painful and invasive procedures, and ultimately, was never effectively treated for his disease, even after he had exhibited classic signs of mental illness (remember his diproportionately frightened and intensely violent reacton to the spinal tap? And, later, that whole interaction with his former college/ law school friend? That was a pretty big tip off that the guy was quickly unraveling, and readily prone to uncontrolled violent outbursts)

Finally, and perhaps most egregiously, he was left unsupervised for long periods of time... and clearly was not responsive to verbal direction. The patient could have been restrained or sedated had his condition been efficiently assessed and explored in a timely fashion. How could you NOT want to play the blame game under these circumstances so as to advocate for the victims? There was a serious breakdown in how the chain of command operated, there was incredibly questionable behavior by all of the staff members with regards to the Valentine's Day party, and a series of deviations from established standards of procedure. These gaffes and oversights certainly contributed to the tragic culmination of events stemming from the lethal combination of (1) a patient's severe, untreated mental illness (2) a lack of adequate supervision (3) understaffing of hosptial (psychiatric) staff, (4) inappropriate social events distracting the staff and (5) a number of small but consequential deviations, committed by various staff and adminstration, from the established expectations for communication and cooperation between the members of a treatment team. Oh, and of course, there is the matter of the enormous butcher knife laying around in an area which clearly was NOT inaccessible to patients... bad, bad, bad for the Hospital.

I bet this case would settle so quickly, and for so much money... This was an incident that could have been avoided if not for a number of human errors. My god! The head doctor left early, a loud, inappropriate party takes place while staff is supposed to be on duty, the supervisors have no idea what the medical students and/or residents are up to... I would hate to be the defense lawyers for this Hospital... we're talking big bucks here for the plaintiffs. And the number of defendants who would be named... dozens.

Suing Paul himself is pretty useless... the guy would be deemed criminally insane (which is what he was! he was sick! untreated schizophrenia is to blame -- not Paul!), he would likely be incompetent to stand trial, and he probably has no assets to seize in a civil suit...

So, you have to sue the responsible parties -- the 'healers.'This is why doctors and hosptials have to pay such high premiums for medical malpractice insurance... while everyone makes mistakes, and judgement calls can either result in success or failure, simply based on chance and luck ... when something like this happens in a place of where health and healing are supposedly sacrosanct... there's a fundamental problem with the structure and adminsitration of the hospital... and the victims who suffer the consequences from these errors deserve the opportunity to help right future wrongs by using lawsuits to pave the way for changes in the manner in which hospital should be safely and efficiently run.

Sue, sue, sue! Money talks -- more funding, better staffing, more solid procedures are often the result of political and social pressures which are borne of the efforts of plaintiff's lawyers who fight for the rights of victims. With managed health care effects forcing hosptials and doctors to work under unreasonable conditions, it will take a lot of finger-pointing, blame-assessing, and redistribution of money to improve conditions for both hosptial staff and patients.

That said, it also seems like, given the popularity of television shows about lawyering, it makes a lot of sense to me tht the 'blame game' storyline should be followed though here... tying medicine to law and politics is rich ground for provacative storytelling -- and exploring the issues of guilt, responsibility by way of character introspection and development, the audience be given a fuller picture of the realities of modern ethos of law and medicine.

In terms of plot consistencies, if there is no lawsuit, internal investigation, or political fallout (in other words, if no heads are gonna roll) then this show will, in my mind, lose all credibility...

-- L (, February 21, 2000.

So say you, Lola. >>>This is why doctors and hosptials have to pay such high premiums for medical malpractice insurance...<<< Oh...I think not. I think that attitudes like yours...SUE,SUE,SUE... (and be sure you sue whoever has the most money...not whoever is most responsible) are why Insurance premiums for doctors, hospitals, and for that matter. ALL THE REST OF US, are so flipping high. GeezeOhPete! It was tragic...and plenty of people will be blamed, and will cast blame...but money won't fix any of what went wrong. Thank you, for helping to raise my insurance premiums through the roof!

Thank you, for that little lesson in monetary responsibility, and greed. The rest of us, were, I think, talking about blame, and guilt, as it applies to the human conscience, not the human pocketbook. If Carter were to sue the hospital for negligence, not only would he be SUING HIMSELF, for all practical purposes, but he would be completely abandoning his principles. HE GAVE UP HIS TRUST FUND, to be what he is, an incredible, thoughtful, talented, compassionate and definitely NOT god like, doctor. One who is flawed, but devoted. He would NEVER make the almighty dollar his only concern, in terms of blame, or responsibility. I would think he is more inclined to want to pay out of his own pocket, for Lucy's funeral or something, than he would ever be to TAKE money. ANd Excuse me, but why should Lucy's family, Who have never really given her anything much, so far as we have seen, suddenly benefit from her untimely death? She would not want that at all. She was not driven by money either. Don't you remember her telling Luka that even though she had had trouble fitting in, she was thankful every day, that she was on the side she was on, and not one of those coming in on a gurney? And that if she helped just one person, it was worth being there that day? She was not the sue happy type, and she would not want her family to capritalize on her death, at the expense of the hospital, and the people who helped her feel her life had meaning.

Lawyers...never able to see past the dollar, and into the soul.

-- Tres (, February 21, 2000.

I will be surprised if the writers do not pursue the legal repurcussions this will have for the hospital. Irregardless of whether or not Lucy's family or Carter sue, there is bound to be public outcry over the event. The media will definitely find out about this because Lucy's death will have to be reported. Doctors being killed in their own ER? The public will want heads to roll! Besides ER has a history of honestly confronting legal issues. There is the obvious example of "Love's Labor Lost" and Carol's mishap with the mixed-up blood.

-- Polly (, February 21, 2000.

Ummm...Loves Labor Lost...a malpractice suit, evidentally settled quietly out of court, no obvious repercussions other than Marks guilt. Carter running over a guy...nothin. A man being backed over by his gay lover right outside, immediately after leaving the hospital. Nothing. Doug and that whole baby Josh detox thing...NOTHING. Doug overdosing a boy to help him apparent legal ramifications. How many times have we seen gunfire in the ER? has the public had a cow? has security been stepped up? NO. Carols blood goof...the only punishment was internal. Lizzy and her threats to the Serial killer...Nothing.

Come on...this show allows its characters to side step legal problems in nearly every episode!

-- Tres (, February 21, 2000.

I knew that would get a rise out of someone. Everyone hates lawyers until they need one.

But, Tres... I guess you're right. It's a good thing no one ever sued the ER when doctors engaged in the flagrantly illegal, unethical, and improper behaviors that you just reminded me of that have taken place in that ER over the years... Just think of all the dramatic episodes we would have missed had some radical rabble rousing lawyer brought these recurrent problems and issues of insubordination to light... Imagine how boring the show would be if we didn't get to experience empathy for the doctor's feelings of guilt... those poor, poor young docs. Especially Carter -- how could I forget what a wonderful limosine liberal he is... a virtual saint. Above reproach. We love the immortal doctors -- as an audience, we should not be distracted by any superfluous dramatization of the feelings of victimization suffered by the patients and their families themselves when our heroes make the wrong choices, don't follow procedure, or just plain screw up. Who are we to judge?

Gosh, just think of how many fictitious patients would have been deprived of fictitious injuries if a fictitious lawyer had hit the fictitious hosptial and fictitious doctors in their ficitious wallets when fictitious acts of medical malpractice occurred -- the lawsuits could have paved the way new and better fictitious rules and procedures to keep the fictious patients safer. That would suck for ratings.

You're so right. Thank god there are no money grubbing lawyers in the fictitious world of ER, out there stirring up trouble, revealing corruption, and trying to make life better for the doctors and patients by exposing the major, and often avoidable, 'human flaws' demonstrated by the fallable doctors... We wouldn't want new safeguards instilled, or a better chain of command established... that would make for bad TV... So, the writers should definitely keep those lawyers from fighting the good fight, and make sure they only portray (quite accurately) the way the AMA protects it's own... let's encourage the 'white' wall of silence to remain intact... then hospitals and doctors could become just as powerful and untouchable and immune to criticism, improvement, and accountability, as say... the LA Police Department.

Come to think of it, Rodney King and his lawyers sure were greedy, to make such a big deal about one deviation of procedure made by just a few of those hard working men in blue who live to protect and serve the citezenry from criminals ... Everyone makes mistakes, right? Especially when they work long hours and aren't paid enough. Why focus on the negative. We should just leave well enough alone, huh?

What WAS I thinking, wanting the hosptial to be called task and be accountable for just a couple of mistakes?

I guess I'm just one of them ambulance chasers.

Hope you never need a lawyer. Let me give you some free legal advice right now -- try to stay away from bad doctors, drunk airplane pilots, flammable baby pajamas, corrupt cops, unhappy marriages, drunk drivers, crooked businesses, family deaths -- oh, and do everything within your power to avoid being the victim of a car accident. Then, you will never have compromise your principals by needing to benefit from the selfish demands and unreasonable expectations we attorneys initiate on behalf of our injured clients.

And to protect yourself FROM us, of course, keep paying your own insurance premiums...

Good luck --

-- L (, February 22, 2000.

Thanks for straightening me out. I forgot, malpractice suits are never settled out of court. At least they mentioned that there was a suit and spent an episode or two dealing with it. It didn't just disappear and I thought it was handled pretty realistically. I will concede, you have a point with some of the other incidents you mention--especially Doug's various shenanigans. I still think they will address the legal issues here. But I've been wrong before and I'll be wrong again before I die.

-- Polly (, February 22, 2000.

If you really think you could win a suit based on a chain of events outlined on a TV show... you are a good lawyer.

First of all, they were in the process of diagnosing him. They had made no conclusions. Unfortunately, you sometimes have to make diagnosis on the process of elimination, when the patient is NOT cooperating.

Secondly, Lucy's record of second guessing her superiors will be brought up.

Finally, I have worked in several office where big knifes are present. Sometimes they are left in the sink. To secure the kitchen area "just in case a psycho should be on hand" is silly.

I think you have to put yourself in the situation at hand before you can point fingers. To safeguard your life against liability, means you live in your home and become a virtual shut in. In general, I see alot of privileges taken away because of fear of being sued. It is a sad state... If I were on the jury, I would acknowledge mistakes were made but only award the plaintiffs minimum settlement.

-- judie (, February 22, 2000.

Gettin kinda hostile and personal there, aren't you lola?

Fact of the matter is, not that I see the relevance, but since you made it an issue..I AM divorced...manged it with one lawyer for two of us. I have had opportunity to sue...and passed it up...when my car was was hit by a another car while I was pregnant...when that driver was at fault...whne I was subsequently treated by a family physician who did what he thought was best...and a few months later, when my child died, after a premature birth, while I was hospitalized. Throughout that time, mistakes were made, which may have made a difference in treatment, but probably not in the outcome. It was a horrible, tragic time. I guess you could call it a *family death*. At the mere suggestion of a lawsuit..I put my foot down. The doctors did the best they could...and who among us is perfect? No One. Would my son be given back to me, if I won a big lawsuit? NO. Would I feel beter about his death? NO. I have a fine lawyer, whom I trust implicitly. Hes' a decent, hardworking guty.Lawyers, like doctors, are not perfect. Too bad a few bad apples had to spoil the reputation of the whole bunch. Do not lecture me on hoping I never neeed a lawyer to take money that isn't mine. I could have..and I chose not to. As would Carter, and as would Lucy, had she a choice.

-- Tres (, February 22, 2000.

Tres, I'm glad you have a good lawyer. Perhaps now you should look into finding a good therapist.

-- L (, February 22, 2000.

The "blame game" of course, is the immediate emotional reaction to something so horrible to accept, much less accept even a portion of the responsiblity for. All the characters that were pointing fingers in last week's episode were indeed, in some fashion, directly or indirectly responsible for the outcome.

In essence, to place blame upon another is to say, "I know that I share responsibility here... but I don't want it!" And then look for another home for the blame.

We all know that if we were in the circumstance, we would beat ourselves up over whatever portion of responsiblity we owned.

Healing, among other things, is a matter of coming to terms with that responsiblity, accepting it, and forgiving oneself for our own shortcomings and mistakes. It is also coming to terms with the consequences.

That's the moral aspect of the blame game.

The legal aspect is, of course, what L describes. Ultimately, the hospital is responsible for what goes on in it's "four walls", and so it should be.

Money and morality do not always go hand in hand. And, I don't think that just because someone disagrees with another, that person needs a therapist. Hardly!

From someone who knows the mental health field (as a provider... ha! we are all a little off!)


-- Sandi (, February 22, 2000.

Come on, Sandi ... everyone needs a good therapist!

-- L (, February 22, 2000.

L, Reading your responses one would think so! *LOL*

-- Sandi (, February 22, 2000.

I think the writers would be remiss if they did not show SOME legal fallout from all of this.

Preferably something constructive rather than greedy. I can see Lucy's family suing for payment of her medical bills (even though she died, the interventions they tried to save her will likely cost her family thousands and thousands of dollars) and hopefully also for increased hospital security (heaven knows County General needs it).

I don't much favor the "sue everybody for money" approach - taking money from the hospital won't fix the problem, and will ultimately hurt patient care by reducing the hospital's funding. But regardless of whether things could have happened differently, a number of folks in this whole mess acted grossly irresponsible and there should be some reprecussions.

-- Lynn (, February 23, 2000.

i have no idea why lola is so positive that county general always gets off the hook, never gets sued, and all the doctors get off scott free with everything!! this show is not a legal show, it is a medical show!!! i for one would find it boring seeing all my fave docs in court defending themselves, rather than in a trauma, saving lives!! lola, i think you just post these legal memorandums to toot your own horn. are you suffering from low swlf-esteem? what does your therapist say about this?

-- Alexis (, February 24, 2000.

It really suprises me how upset many people have become by the notion that County Generaly be held accountable for mistakes through the means of litigation. It saddens me that a lawsuit such as the type I outlined in previous postings is perceived as a quest for money rather than a way to bring errors to light, and to improve policy. Perhaps my belief that lawsuits are the only way to bring about change is too cynical, rather than realistic. It's hard to know.

I do agree that this show is best left as a medical show -- that's why I watch it, too. In terms of legal ramification follow-up, I was thinking more along the lines of references to lawsuits or whatever during breaks, not changing the whole format of the show. It would be very annoying to see coutroom scenes or something like that... but I do like the idea of allusions to some kind of legal reprocussions, even if its just really subtle.

As for the attacks on medical palpractice lawyers and personal injury lawyers themselves -- fire away. You think I'm trying to drum up business for myself from imaginary characters on a television show? Why are you so certain that this is my line of work? (It's not.) Knowing how the system operates, and realizing that, flawed as it is, often the legal justice system is only means through which policy changes and improved safety measures are instituted, does not mean I practice what I preach.

Finally, about the self-esteem issue -- I think a really serious self- esteem issue is demonstrated when a person feels that it is 'wrong' or 'selfish' or 'greedy' to stand up for their own rights, and for the future protection of others, by filing a lawsuit against a larger entity or an impressively degreed individual. The whole concept of 'who am I to judge or point fingers' and 'I'm sure everyone did all they could' doesn't exactly scream confidence and security... rather, the attitude that any kind of suing is just 'wrong' is very much a defeatest acceptance of the way things are, and a way of saying, 'I'm just a nobody... there's nothing I can do to change things.' I see that as the stance of a born victim, not a fighter... Anyway, that's my take on it, and I certainly thought Lucy was portrayed as a champion for the rights of the little guy against the system. However -- since, according to some of you, who know the fictitious characters on ER so disturbingly intimately-- neither of the 'victim' characters would, ever, ever, be involved in a lawsuit, because it's just not their 'personalities' (as they are written by real live people)-- So, I guess this entire discussion is simply academic.

-- L (, February 24, 2000.

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