transplant candidates in "viable options"(season 6) and "vanishing act"(season 5) : LUSENET : ER Discussions : One Thread

on "vanishing act" on tnt tonight, one of the story lines involved a man who had a liver transplant...he needed a 2nd one because he had destroyeed the liver by drinking. Jeannie called the transplant service to get him taken off the list. If that man could get taken off the list for drinking, why couldn't the man in "Viable options" who used cocaine and was waiting for a kidney transplant be taken off the list? That epidose made it seem like it was an ethical decision that luka was making and that he was in the wrong because at least the kidney wouldn't have gone to waste. Elizabeth even told luka it was not his choice to make...he couldn't decide not to give the kidney to the man because he used drugs. why, then, could jeanie get the man waiting for a liver taken off the transplant list because he was drinking? it was obvious that it wasn't an ethical decision but a medical one. does anyone have an idea as to why these two situations were treated so differently?

-- Erin (, August 01, 2000


I don't know, but one thing seems clear: Luka didn't call the transplant service like Jeannie did; he unilaterally tried to make a decision that wasn't his to make. Jeannie made the phone call to inform, but wouldn't be the one deciding the ultimate fate of an available liver, so to speak. That's how I saw it, anyway.

-- Phyl (, August 02, 2000.

Phyl's right- Elizabeth was ticked off that Luka had made the decision on his own. He did call UNOS, (to get the next person on the list) but never informed Corday. (And how would you like to be Luka having to explan to Mrs. Nussbaum- "Sorry, there's no kidney for you after all."? ) The proper procedure would have been to tell Elizabeth of the potential problem Also, he jsut assumed that the guy blew out his kidneys with cocaine. And Luka told the guy, flat out, that he would give the kidney to someone who "deserves it". Just a wee bit self-righteous of him. jo

-- Jo (, August 02, 2000.

In the case of the man who needed the 2nd liver transplant: Was the liver ready and waiting to be transplanted, and would it have gone to waste? The kidney issue was one of immediate concern, since the kidney was fresh, in transit, and would no longer be viable after a short period of time. If the liver was right there and needed to be put into someone, anyone, I'd assume they would put it in the immediate candidate, just like they were forced to do with the kidney.

-- Cecelia (, August 02, 2000.

I agree with Cecelia. I think it was because of the fact that the kidney was there and ready to be transplanted into someone. There was no viable liver waiting for the other guy. I think the guy in Viable Options could have easily been moved down on the list or taken off had they know he was abusing drugs...I am sure that is one of the prerequisites for people awaiting transplants. But the fact that the kidney would no longer be viable in an hour played a huge role in that decision.

-- amanda (, August 02, 2000.

Seems a little odd, though, that Elizabeth would get so snotty with Luka regarding that transplant patient after she threatened (twice) to kill Dean Rollins if he didn't give her information about *non* patients. Gee, doesn't that sound "self-righteous" (and downright reprehensible)? Or do ethical standards only apply to Luka, and not anyone else? After all, I recall no condemnation of Elizabeth for her actions in "Humpty Dumpty" (in fact, it was barely touched on in the review, if I remember correctly), nor do I recall the standard being applied to Carter after he nearly killed a patient while under the influence of drugs. If Luka has to be held under a certain 'standard', why not Elizabeth and Carter as well?

It just seems strange that in the beginning of season 6, Luka was too 'perfect'. Now we see him with human flaws, and he's a terrible person. Seems like the poor guy just can't do anything right! *G*

Just wondering. :)

-- Pamela (, August 03, 2000.

I feel sorry for Luka. Not about this but because he has no friends except for Carol. It just dawned on me that with Carol gone he has no buddies. I hope he gets some friends this year. That's sad not to have any friends. About this topic though, he should have talked to Elizabeth about the situation before calling someone else and having them believe a kidney was available when it wasn't.

-- Cammie (, August 03, 2000.

But, Pamela, Elizabeth wasn't ACTUALLY going to kill anyone...It may have seemed like she meant it, but I doubt that she would actually have allowed him to die if it came right down to it. She has rarely (and I'm not saying never, just rarely) overstepped the bounds of ethics in a serious way. But Luka DOES wield his Stethoscope O' Justice in a cery serious way. And he's been doing it in blatant disregard for the rules, for procedures, for the LAW, and for medical ethics.

He could have threatened to let the drug-using kidney patient die, for example, just to put the fear of God into him...But instead, he blatantly TOLD the guy, "No. You don't deserve to live. You ruined your kidney, I'm not going to let you ruin this one." And he intended to carry it out, despite the immediate need to put that kidney into SOMEONE. Same with the pregnant girl who wouldn't allow him to deliver the baby...Many people were horrified by that story, but the LAW stated he couldn't touch her. And he intended to, regardless of the patient's wishes, the law, the regulations, everything. Very seldon has Elizabeth jeopardized her career in this way.

-- Cecelia (, August 03, 2000.

I beg to differ. Luka never said, "I'm going to let you die" to Cocaine Guy. In fact, that fellow seemed in fairly good health at the time (walked in under his own power, was speaking coherently, etc.). The tests showed he had cocaine in his system when he came in to the ER for the transplant. Uh, big mistake there, buddy. Did you think they'd let you wait a few extra days to get it out of your system? Like I said before, it was Elizabeth's decision, but I don't think she had a right to be so high & mighty about it, considering her own actions of a few months before.

And Elizabeth's actions were, IMO, far more terrifying than anything Luka has ever done. His actions were arguable in "May Day"-he provided extra blood, and left the shooter with Peter, an experienced surgeon, an ambulance and several EMTs. And yet Peter chose to stand around arguing while his patient bled out!. Agree or not, that case was a tough call.

As for the Pregnant Psycho, it must be pointed out that a judge seemed to think that law was questionable as well. Maybe he should be accused of weilding that Stethoscope O'Justice as well? :)

It just seems very odd to me that Luka is held to a certain standard while Elizabeth (and Carter, for that matter) is not. And Elizabeth, if you'll recall, said that she, too, would have difficulty prioritizing a shooter over a child (and Peter Benton didn't seem half as disturbed about what she did in "Humpty Dumpty" as he was about Luka's actions in "May Day", yet they were both 'unethical'). Elizabeth *coerced* Dean Rollins into revealing where Sandra Perry was hidden, and she had no right to do so, since Sandra Perry was not her patient. That is a *violation of the law*, like it or not. Or is the law only applicable to Luka's situation?

If the standard applies to Luka, it applies to everyone. Period. Which of course would mean that there wouldn't be any doctors working at County General right now, since just about everyone on "ER" has violated an ethical standard at one time or another. It doesn't matter if she intended to kill Dean Rollins or not-she threatened him on two separate occassions, didn't she? And she got information from him *illegally*. What she did was wrong, legally and ethically, IMO.

-- Pamela (, August 03, 2000.

Another question I need to ask (and I hope I don't sound too strident here-I want this to be as friendly and polite a debate as possible!): When did Luka ever threaten to kill anyone? He was trying to save lives, not take them ("Do no harm"). The issue of whether she was *going* to let Dean Rollins die isn't that important. What's important is that she threatened to do it, and that's what got him to talk. Coersion is illegal. So is forcing a C- section (which, btw, he didn't perform...he threatened her with his *intentions*, right, except in his case it resulted in a dead baby that could have survived outside the womb were it not for Psycho Mom). Yet for some reason, Luka's actions were vilified, and Elizabeth's were all but forgotten. It just sounds like a double standard to me.

I'm not saying I was rooting for Dean Rollins, of course. In fact, that entire storyline seemed to serve no purpose, at least regarding Elizabeth's character. It revealed nothing about her, gave us no new insight into her personality (gotta admit-"May Day" revealed lots to us about Luka's mental and emotional state), and when it was over, we were all relieved (I was, at least). Isn't it amazing that of all the new cast members we had this past season, the normally sweet, gentle Luka has become the most controversial character on the show? I give TPTB credit for that. He's by far the most interesting new character on the show, IMO, and was the best written character of last season.

-- Pamela (, August 03, 2000.

Interesting comments, Pamela. I know we had this discussion on Elizabeth some time back on a.t.e. and I believe (and I could be wrong) that we learned that because Elizabeth was not acting as someone in law enforcement, her "coercing" Rollins might have been a terrible thing, but it wasn't illegal.

WRT ethical standards only applying to Luka, I disagree. I think ER felt it had so much success with Doug's character bucking the system that they're overdoing it now. But I've generally complained about the "cowboy crap" that almost every doctor is committing.

I found the entire Rollins thing totally ridiculous in any event, and can't recall what I wrote in my review.

-- Phyl (, August 03, 2000.

Pamela--A judge does not need a Stethoscope O' Justice, because a judge IS the law. Luka did not have the right to make that decision. A judge did.

Phyl's right, Elizabeth's "coersion" of Rollins was not illegal, since she was not a member of law enforcement. Some people might not have liked it, but she didn't let Rollins die. She saved him for the chair (or whatever ended up happening to him). If she HAD let him die, THAT would have been unethical. She didn't.

And as far as the kidney guy, I was paraphrasing. In ESSENCE, Luka was telling that guy he couldn't have the kidney because of his coke habit. Without the new kidney, presumably the guy would die. Hence, Luka TOLD the guy he was going to let him die--metaphorically. OK?

Elizabeth may have "difficulty" making decisions about the right thing to do in any given circumstance, but there are rules and regulations and laws that have to be adhered to. Luka has shown, in all these instances, that he would rather dispense justice on his own scales. A doctor should not be doing this.

-- Cecelia (, August 03, 2000.

I went a'hunting and found this from my "Humpty Dumpty review":

"Regarding Elizabeth's actions, I'd love for one of these characters to actually get in trouble for what they do, if indeed she did something wrong, instead of all these empty threats. Let's see, a few weeks ago it was Mark crushing someone's larynx. Yeah, big trouble there. This week, it was Elizabeth. However, I need a lawyer-type to let me know if civilians are held to the same standard of the law as police officers are. Did she "coerce a confession" or find out the whereabouts of a victim? Can she coerce a confession if she is not an agent of the law?"

So, I did look for a standard of accountability to Elizabeth, as I did for Luka, when she did something that was wrong.

-- Phyl (, August 03, 2000.

I want to say something about "May Day" which Pamela commented on rea; quick. First this is just my opinion. Please, I don't want to start a debate about the school shooting in "May Day". I just want to say that I think Luka did do the right thing in "May Day". I mean the shooter shot some kids at a school for no reason. I'm sorry but that's just how I feel.

-- Cammie (, August 03, 2000.

The subject of "May Day" and Luka's actions were discussed at length. See the comments section in the summary/review for that episode.

-- Phyl (, August 03, 2000.

It seems to me I remember Romano telling Elizabeth that she was free and clear of the "coersion" charge--that they had decided she wasn't liable because she wasn't a law enforcement officer. I could be wrong, I don't have the episodes on tape, but still...

All I keep pointing out when these subjects come up is that these doctors often do things that we don't approve of, for whatever reason. We are shocked that she would threaten someone's life, for example. But there are LAWS to support certain actions, and laws and regulations specifically preventing others. Luka didn't have the legal right to operate on the Pregnant Psycho. He didn't have the right to let the schoolyard shooter die when the shooter was more seriously injured (from info available at the scene). And I'm fairly certain he didn't have the right to refuse to put that kidney in the idiot who was using coke. *sigh*

Great show, ER...Really makes you think about the legal and social aspects of medicine, among other things. :)

-- Cecelia (, August 03, 2000.

>> It just seems strange that in the beginning of season 6, Luka was too 'perfect'. Now we see him with human flaws, and he's a terrible person. Seems like the poor guy just can't do anything right! *G* <<

Miesque, I mean Pamela, I don't see a conflict there. :) In the beginning, people were saying they wanted him fleshed out more so they could make up their minds, and now they have a whole season to go on and some have made up their minds that they don't like him. What's it to you that you keep bringing it up? It's not like your vibrator is going to stop running if X number of fans don't like Luka. Do you like all the characters and agree with all the decisions they make? LOL! Could someone argue you into liking ones you don't like? *G*

-- Chris (, August 03, 2000.

Hehehe...Some of sure defend our favorite characters VIGOROUSLY, don't we? ;) Well, I guess it's all part of the fun...

-- Cecelia (, August 03, 2000.

Basically, I think Luka was trying to scare Gloria Milton into changing her mind. He was trying to save a life. The only major difference I would have with Cecelia about the shooter is that Luka didn't *let* him die. He provided extra blood for Peter-an experienced surgeon, by the way. County had the closest pedes ER (Doug's pedes ER!). The fact that he died because of his own actions is very little skin off my back. He took his life in his own hands when he opened fire on that schoolyard.

And yeah, we will defend our favorite characters. What kind of fans would we be if we didn't defend them?. I can't help it if people don't like Luka. That's their loss, I suppose. *G* So life continues.

-- Pamela (, August 04, 2000.

Of course we defend our favorite characters. The only problem is others may disagree and believe me they let you know about it. I liked Lucy and apparently alot of people don't. Alot of people didn't like Luka and probably still don't. I feel sorry for him though. I mean he has noone. His family is gone. Carol was his only friend and now she's gone. Poor guy. Hopefully he'll have a better year. I do like him though even if he isn't my favorite character on "ER".

-- Cammie (, August 04, 2000.

Yes, Cammie, we all know how you feel about Lucy and KM...Believe me, you let us know. :)

-- Cecelia (, August 04, 2000.

I wouldn't have minded a Carter/Lucy pairing too much, except it would have been OOC for Carter. And as for Lucy, I wasn't her biggest fan, but I was really shocked at how nasty people often got towards the poor girl. Kellie Martin did the best she could with what she had, IMO, and helped create a fairly interesting character. Not saying I really miss Lucy or anything, but I liked her okay. Poor kid.

Back OT here: what I think I was trying to say is that if the ethical standards were to be applied to everyone on "ER", there'd be almost no docs in the ER, since they'd all be under suspension & such for violating the rules at various times (it's a wonder Doug ever had a chance to work at all! *G*). But it's a TV drama, so we can't exactly expect real life to apply here. And I still maintain that Luka's actions in "May Day", WRT to the shooter at least, were arguable-it was a very tough call-and I'm not too sure I'd be delighted to learn that the shooter had lived and that kid had died because they followed all the right ethical standards. How would Peter explain himself to Mr. Rosato?

-- Pamela (, August 04, 2000.

Thank you Pamela! Finally somebody agrees with me on that. This is OT but am I the only one who feels sorry for Luka right now?

-- Cammie (, August 04, 2000.

Post a new thread with that title.

-- Cecelia (, August 04, 2000.

I think I need to explain what I meant in my last comment before someone goes ballistic on me. I meant to say that someone finally agrees with me about Lucy/Carter. I wasn't talking about Luka's actions in "May Day". That's another topic which I for one don't want to get into. Just wanted to clear that up.

-- Cammie (, August 04, 2000.

Again, Lucy finds her way into a thread that had nothing remotely to do with her...*grumble*

-- Cecelia (, August 04, 2000.

I'm very sorry Cecelia! I just wanted to explain which part of Pamela's post I agree to before we ended up debating the whole shooting thing again on "May Day". I think there was a past thread on which we did do that and I don't want to have another discussion on that. That's all I was doing.

-- Cammie (, August 04, 2000.

I just had to put my two cents in here. As everyone probably knows I am a huge Luka fan. I agree with Pamela. I don't think there is a doctor on the show who has not done something questionable or against some ethical code. I am sure doctors face these decisions everyday in real life as well. I agree that Luka seems to be bashed more than the other doctors over what people consider ethical issues. Is one step over the ethics line any worse than another? I can think of several instances, Elizabeth/Dean Rollins being just one. There are many instances in which a doctor WANTED to cross the line, but didn't. Look at Carter with the diabetic kid (falsified a chart), or Chen with the Huntington's disease patient (nearly told the patient's daughter against his wishes), Kerry "tricking" Mark into signing off for a central line for that one girl (at least she did get suspended) and of course, we all know about Doug.

I thought Luka's actions in the school shootings were just...the only person mad about that was Benton. I also feel that the guy on coke would have easily been removed from a kidney transplant list under any other circumstances...he should know that abusing drugs would hinder his chance for a transplant. Luka was NOT letting him die...that guy chose his actions to take drugs knowing that he was in line for a kidney. His own stupidity would have been the reason - not Luka's decision. And as for the pregnant girl. That was a very tough call. As Pamela said, he was probably trying to scare her into changing her mind (is that right? probably not, but how is that different than what Elizabethe did?) But let's remember...he did NOT follow through on that threat.

I know this is just a TV show and as Cecelia said, the writers do a good job of throwing in these things (for dramatic purposes) they really get us viewers thinking. I know doctors must face choices like these all the time (maybe not quite as dramatic as the pregnant girl or school shooting). I am anxious to see how TPTB will continue to grow Luka's character next season...he seems to always get these controversial cases. Maybe next year he can get some plain old broken limbs or something!

-- amanda (, August 04, 2000.

I know this has been discussed over and over again...But Luka was NOT just trying to scare the pregnant girl. He had the scalpel in his hand, and he fully intended to break the law and cut the woman open against her wishes. And yes, his action in refusing to take the shooter on the helpcopter may have been JUST, but it was wrong of him to make the judgement. The shooter was in more serious condition at the time. (And to put another perspective on it...I'll bet the shooter had a family of his own too. Who was the lucky stiff who got to break the news to them that their son was dead?)

I would not want any doctor taking it into their head to be judge and jury on me in an instance where my life was on the line, and I don't think anyone else would either. In the case of the cokehead kidney guy, yes the man used drugs and from the point of view of JUSTICE, he didn't deserve a new kidney. But Luka again did not have the legal right to make that call at that point. Luka wanted to let the guy die, to punish him for his sins.

Think about it...You need a lifesaving procedure, but the doctor in charge uses his own personal scales of justice to decide if you are worthy. If it were you, you would not be happy or sympathetic towards him. We have courts and juries to make those decisions for us in this country.

I'm not angry with anyone here for their perspective on this, I'm just trying to remind everyone that it's not a black-and-white case. All the doctors on the show have bent the rules, like Amanda said, but of late Luka is the one who has seemed the most self-righteous about it. I still say he's not being careful enough with that Stethoscope O' Justice. :)

-- Cecelia (, August 04, 2000.

Amanda, you're right about almost every doctor doing something wrong. I think Dave is the only one who hasn't. I read in an article on the web where Noah talked to some actual doctors who did what his character did in "May Day" and they ended up losing their jobs. But don't worry. Carter will still have his job. I think the web site was at People Magazine. I think the address is but I'm not totally sure on that one. So Carter's basically getting away with it. I mean he had to goo to rehab but that's all he had to do.

-- Cammie (, August 04, 2000.

One other thing regarding the shooter (and I've veered way off topic, too, I know) -- what if he were mentally ill? Would Luka's actions then seem different to some?

-- Phyl (, August 04, 2000.

Well, so far the shooter being mentally ill...if he was, then his family should have monitored him a little more closely, eh? :) You know, keep him away from people who might talk him into taking part in an armed truck robbery, shooting at children, that sort of thing. But we'll never know if he was mentally ill. I seriously doubt he was. And mentally ill or not, he still had the power to say 'yes' or 'no'. He had the power to tell Peter Benton to 'Go to hell', didn't he? :)

As for informing the family of the shooter, I would think whoever told them that their son was dead would also be honest with them: their son went into a school building with the intention of harming/killing people, and he paid the consequences for his actions. He took his own life into his own hands, and whatever his family did or did not try to teach him is of little importance once he picked up a gun and started shooting. He made a choice.

All the doctors on "ER" have to work in grey areas, and it's very interesting to see how they work on those areas. They make mistakes. They're human, not machines. And I'm sure that things like that will continue to happen with each doctor on the show. So no, I don't think Luka was necessarily being self-righteous. No more than Elizabeth was with Dean Rollins, or Chen for going against a patient's wishes, or even Doug for violating rules for his patients. Luka, like Carter, is going to be on the show again this coming season, so whatever happens with Luka will be interesting to watch. I, too, hope he can start enjoying his life a little and not have all these controversial cases all the time.

I vote for a happy Luka some day! :)

-- Pamela (, August 04, 2000.

Here's how I look at it. Just give me a minute to explain before jumping to conclusions here. In BSMH and AITF Paul Sobriki was obviously mentally ill even though noone figured it out until it was too late. He was acting very agitated. Now should we feel sorry for him because he was mentally ill? I mean we were all mad for what he did too two innocent people. One of them died. I don't remember anyone saying we should feel sorry for him. Now in "May Day" we don't know if the shooter was mentally ill. There was no way of knowing. I know that the difference is that Paul is an adult and the shooter was a kid but that still doesn't excuse it no matter what the age. Murder is murder. So I think I'd still think that Luka's actions still would have been the right one. I hope this all made sense. Sorry if it didn't.

-- Cammie (, August 04, 2000.

Another point that might be relevant here: If people are still talking this summer about Luka and the shooter and the pregnant woman, and not so much about Elizabeth and the Rollins affair, etc., part of it can be attributed to the fact that Luka's story took place in the season finale. There wasn't another episode in a week or two to throw new developments out there for everyone to discuss. As it stands, Carter's drug problem and Luka's popping of two medical ethical boners are the most recent important points on the ER timeline. I actually did see a fair amount of debate and discussion on a.t.e re: the ethics of the Elizabeth/Dean matter after "Humpty Dumpty" aired last November, and as I'm not a lawyer or law student, I found it informative and educational. But subsequent episodes presented new stories, and people turned their attention elsewhere.

Re: The hypothetical of Peter Benton breaking the news to the Rosatos. I'd imagine it would be a difficult conversation for him, but giving bad news to family members is part of his job, and I've seen him handle himself very well in that role in the past. He would just have to be truthful (and whatever else you can say about Peter, he is a straight talker and has a lot of integrity) and say that he followed proper triage protocol and gave priority to the most seriously injured person based on the information he had at the scene, as he was trained to do. None of this would make the Rosatos feel any less sad or angry, but that understandable inability to be objective and detached is the best reason why people should never be put in the position of making certain decisions about their own family. If the injured child in question had been Peter's son or one of Jackie's kids, he too would have a difficult time being objective and detached, because it's just human nature to want the best and most where the well-being of our loved ones is concerned. Fortunately for Peter, he wasn't put in that position at the scene of the school shooting; he was functioning in his capacity as a board-certified trauma surgeon, and he realizes that if he wants to continue in that role, he's occasionally going to be called on to stay his revulsion and set aside even the most clear-cut moral judgments, even if it means doing something that leaves a truly bad taste in the mouth, like giving priority to the injuries of someone who's done a truly reprehensible thing. I think the coming season will see Luka grappling with that same process as an emergency physician.

-- Philip (, August 04, 2000.

Cammie--the shooter was not a kid. He was an adult.

Pamela--In court, people are sometimes ruled not guilty by reason of insanity, i.e., they were legally NOT responsible for their actions. That's the legal view, if someone is ruled mentally ill to the point where they cannot understand the wrongness of their actions. But your comments said that the shooter "had a choice." Are you saying that even when someone is out of their minds, through no fault of their own, they must pay with their lives for a mistake? I can't agree. And if we can't be sure whether the shooter was mentally ill, how can we say that Luka did the right thing, not knowing? We have courts to determine people's guilt or innocence, and how they should be punished. I don't want to see that decision put into the hands of just anyone.

If doctors can make judgments about who is to live or die simply based on who THEY think is a better person, without knowing all the facts, and disregarding the LAW, then the world is a much more frightening place than even I imagined.

-- Cecelia (, August 04, 2000.

You're right Cecelia! Sorry, my mistake!

-- Cammie (, August 04, 2000.

The point is, we *don't* know, and we never will. Shooting someone is something you do consciously: pick up a gun, aim, and fire. Since there is no evidence now that the shooter was mentally ill, why make excuses for *him*? The whole thing starts with the *shooter*, after all, not Luka.

Sometimes, the court system is wrong. The Supreme Court has "just anybody" on the bench (we call them 'just anybody' depending on whether we agree with them, of course). And sometimes, a person can pretend he's crazy to get away with murder. I'm sure it's been done a few times at least.

The courts used to say it was perfectly legal to own a slave, for instance, and that it was illegal to teach that slave how to read. But can you say that the court system was right about either issue? Or does the span of a hundred years make a difference? That sounds scary, too, doesn't it? If not for different judges (individual human beings, of course) being appointed to the courts, the laws never would have changed. So what I'm saying is: it is possible for the law to be wrong, because it's being interpreted by fallible humans with their own set of prejudices. And sometimes they will interpret the law incorrectly (so far as we're concerned, of course).

Besides, I seriously doubt Luka was thinking, "I'll let that bastard die!" as he flew away in the helicopter. He was thinking of his own patient, like any doctor would do. Both patients were critical, but County had the closest pedes ER. He did what he believed was necessary for his patient. IMO, it was a very cloudy situation that we'll never be able to agree on fully. But I don't think anyone can honestly say that Luka is any less ethical than anyone else on "ER". Every doctor on that show has make questionable decisions (I remember Doug attacking a child abuser, Dave attacking a child molester-they had no right to do that, either), and it'll be interesting to see how Luka deals with other difficult situations in the future. But like I said before, I hope his character can cease from being so controversial.

-- Pamela (, August 04, 2000.

Cecelia, could Paul Sobriki be found not guilty by insanity? Yes he was insane but he did pick up the knife with intentions to kill someone. What would happen if he was found not guilty? I'd be afraid for Carter if he went free.

-- Cammie (, August 04, 2000.

Pamela made this point: "Besides, I seriously doubt Luka was thinking, "I'll let that bastard die!" as he flew away in the helicopter. He was thinking of his own patient, like any doctor would do."

I respect your point of view, however I saw this differently. Luka was part of a triage team and decisions on patient care are to be made not on morals, not on who "deserves it more," but on which patient was more critical. I might have even bought the argument that Luka was solely being an advocate for his patient, if he hadn't said this:

"I'm supposed to delay care while they're taking the guy who was shooting at kids and cops?"

This statement, to me, while not as strongly worded as "I'll let that bastard die," told me that he did not care about the shooter because he *was* the shooter. Some of you might applaud this stance and again, I respect your right to that opinion, but in real life this is a dangerous way to practice medicine and I'd hate for a doctor to have the subjective power over me to help me or not based upon his view of whether I'm worthy. That's frightening.

With that statement, he told Peter (and us) that his judgment was predicated upon less than objective physician standards. Peter was trying to either tell or teach Luka that Luka's patient existed along with others, that the rules of triage are there not to punish someone, but to help the most critically injured.

His assessment was not objective, but subjective and therefore he wasn't thinking only about patient care, but about his own brand of justice. I have great admiration for the character's moral stance, but do not admire his practice in this and other cases.

-- Phyl (, August 04, 2000.

I have to say I think Pamela and Cecelia are both arguing their points very well.

Mentally ill people are held accountable for the actions quite a lot in our society (whether it is right or wrong). Just recently in the news in Texas a mentally retarded man was put to death for murder. But I think whether or not the shooter in our epi was mentally ill is beside the point (I don't think he was however if he was in the right mind to tell Benton to go to hell). People need to face the consequences of their actions. We all choose to do things and if someone is going to go into a school or fast food restaurant shooting away at people, IMO they are giving away their right to NOT get shot at back (know what I mean?).

Sure, Luka made a decision as to which patient would get the chopper ride back to the ER. If he would have just left with an empty chopper then that would be a different story. I think 99% of the people in our society would have chosen to treat the little boy first over the gunman. It may not be the "correct" thing to do, but it was the "right" thing to do.

-- amanda (, August 04, 2000.

Good point, Amanda. However, doctors can't make their own decisions subjectively because sooner or later, someone will be harmed. There are certain professions where people are required to adhere to rules. I'm sure Luka fans don't want him to become another Doug Ross (I know, you're shuddering, aren't you?) -- and Doug left because he did what *he* thought was right. Well, he thought he was right, and he ended up in a heap of trouble, even though he acted with compassion. There are rules of care and objectivity that he and every other doctor must follow.

Are firemen allowed to put out fires only where they think they want to? Are policemen allowed to protect those who they deem are worthy? No, and thank goodness for that! What if one day Luka makes another decision like this, and it turns out his basis for that decision-making is wrong? Is it okay then? I don't think so.

I think the writers have given him a fascinating character flaw here, and it is a flaw. All ER characters have them.

-- Phyl (, August 04, 2000.

Phyl, thanks for expressing yourself so well, as always--I do agree with you on standards of behavior, etc. And I respect Pamela's opnion as well, keeping in mind that for the most part, she and I are not disagreeing. (We are keeping it cool, which is a HUGE relief...on Usenet I'm accustomed to massive flame wars. ) I have no problem with Luka's FEELINGS about any of these matters. I felt the same disgust with the cokehead, the same horror at the baby born dead, the same fury at the bastard shooting in a schoolyard, and so on. It's his actions that I take issue with.

Pamela wrote:

"So what I'm saying is: it is possible for the law to be wrong, because it's being interpreted by fallible humans with their own set of prejudices. And sometimes they will interpret the law incorrectly (so far as we're concerned, of course). "

Yes, Pamela, there are often bad laws, as there were in the past, such as slavery. I just believe that it is better and more useful to work to CHANGE a law, than to just break it and try to justify the act. We might look at Luka as heroic for saving the pregnant woman's baby, for example...but what if that decision led to another in which a woman's control over her body was denied? Legal precedent is relied upon very heavily in the U.S. Where do you draw the line, when a law should br broken and when it should be upheld? "Right" and "wrong" are seldom black and white issues, and Luka's idea of right and just might differ greatly from another's. We take a certain amount of care in electing our officials (hopefully ) to see that legislative decisions are made well...*sigh*

I still don't want any doctor, fireman, or what have you deciding on my worth as a human being in a life and death situation. If it ever comes down to that, I want a jury of my peers, and due process of law for that. The shooter didn't get that, and in this country he did have that right. Even if he was a sadistic bastard who shot a bunch of kids, he should have gotten his day in court.

Whew. :)

-- Cecelia (, August 04, 2000.

One more thing... Cecelia and Phyl both talk about getting fair treatment by doctors, firemen, police etc. And Cecelia said the shooter did not get a fair trial by his peers and that Luka made that decision for everyone. I just wanted to say that the policemen who shot the shooter in this case were in a way doing the same thing. In instances where a gunman is going around shooting up places, the police snipers are often told "shoot to kill" or something of that nature. In an instance such as that who is making the judgement about who is worthy? I hope we are not all naive enough to think that policeman don't make decisions like these on a daily basis. I believe they do and probably more often than doctors and based solely upon who a person is or what they did.

-- amanda (, August 05, 2000.

Of course you are right, Amanda. But I think that's what law enforcement officers are for, to an extent. That's why they have guns, after all, and doctors and firemen don't. Docs and firefighters are healers and livesavers, NOT crimefighters. Police are SUPPOSED to bring the bad guys down, though I don't think they should be shooting to kill.

-- Cecelia (, August 05, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ