Series / Untold Stories of the E.R.

"These are the real stories of the ER, that doctors never talk about."

A show on the Discovery Network channels. The show involves dramatic reenactments of cases that have been seen in Emergencies Rooms. Usually the actor portraying the doctor is the doctor from the story. The stories for the most part are real but with some details changed for compression purposes, the patient did not give permission to be used, or the patient could not be found afterwards.


This show provides examples of:

  • Abuse Mistake:
    • As an example of Type A, in "Halloween in the ER" a boy came in with a undiagnosed mild case of Brittle Bone Disease. The number of old micro-fractures implied abuse to the doctors. The mother's defensive behaviour (even before the accusation), and both parents' response to the accusation — up to and including kidnapping the child from the ER — did not help matters.
    • Another Type A, in which a boy with unexplained bruising prompted suspicions of child abuse. It turned out instead to be a case of completely unintentional neglect: The boy had scurvy, because his parents were ignorant of proper nutrition, and thus fed him almost nothing but oatmeal because that was what he liked.
  • All of Them: The boy who gave himself magnesium poisoning by drinking too much antacid liquid. "How much did you take?" "The whole bottle."
  • Almighty Janitor: In one episode, a woman came to the ER, unconscious. The doctors couldn't tell what was wrong, and the only other person they could reach who knew her medical history was her husband, who could only speak Punjabi. The nearest translator for that language was half an hour away and the woman didn't even have five minutes... cue a janitor saving the day because he just happened to speak the same language.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Very common. Most of the time the ER docs try their best to put them back on. One case the man lost his legs after being hit by a train.
  • April Fools' Plot: At least one episode has a subplot that takes place on April Fools' Day. When a hospital volunteer suddenly presents with confusion that clears up just as abruptly, her fiancé believes she's just flexing her acting skills by playing an April Fool's joke. She's not.
    • At the end of the episode:
      Her: Do you still wanna marry me?
      Him: Of course! Do you still wanna marry me, after I was such a jerk?
      Her: No. I don't.
      [long pause]
      Her: April Fools!
  • As Himself: A lot of retired doctors, or doctors working fewer hours come on to tell the stories and reenact them.
  • Ass Shove: One male patient, who actually bribed the doctors not to do any paperwork, had to have a dildo removed from his anus once it got stuck. This is a fairly common story and probably makes up about 1 percent of ER visits.
  • Attention Whore: Anyone with Münchausen syndrome is one of these. They fake medical disorders to gain attention and sympathy.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted in some cases. One woman was brutally mauled by a mountain lion. Doctors managed to reconstruct her face, but she cried when they took the bandages off and she saw how bad she looked. They then showed her photos of how she looked before they stitched her up, and she realized that she was lucky to even have a face.
  • Belly Dancer: In the episode "Belly Dancer Mystery", an entertainer in full costume was wheeled into emergency.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Happens a lot, especially when the doctors put their own lives on the line. During the rampage of Damacio Ibarra Torres, one nurse dragged a doctor who was shot in the head into another room to prevent a Coup de Grâce from the gunman. He then went back for a gurney and quickly wheeled the doctor into a trauma bay. After that, a neurosurgeon left the guarded cafeteria so he could then treat the doctor... while the gunman's location was still unknown.
  • Big Heroic Run: One doctor had to run across the ER, jump, and land on the bed on his knees to catch a baby a woman was pushing out fast.
  • Blood Is the New Black: And vomit, urine, feces, alcohol... pretty much any doctor can expect to be showered with bodily fluids that you didn't know existed over the course of his career.
    • A neurosurgeon on call was rushing to the hospital to try to save a man who crashed his motorcycle with no helmet. Along the way he came across another man who did the same thing, so he was delayed trying to help this man until the ambulance arrived so he could then go to the hospital and save both. The other doctors and nurses were stunned as he came running in, in his dress shirt and pants covered in blood.
    • Another fairly graphic example happened in the episode "Drama Mama." The featured doctor was dealing with a combative patient who appeared to have a tension pneumothorax (in layman's terms, a collapsed lung). In actuality he didn't, and when the doctor poked his chest to relieve the pressure, a quite literal fountain of blood squirted everywhere.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: All too often. One woman was cradling the body of her friend who was shot, telling him to Please Wake Up. Paramedics had to tell her they would look at the (obviously) dead friend after they checked her out. Turns out all the blood wasn't just his- some of it was from the two point blank shots to her head.
  • Born Lucky: The one way some of the patients survive.
    • One man fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a chain link fence, which sent one of the fence pipes straight through his head. The doctors had no idea how to treat them: "We don't see these types of injuries in the ER. These types of injuries usually show up in the morgue." After X-ray and CAT scans showed that it had somehow managed to miss every single nerve, vein, and artery in his head, they pulled it out with a team of vascular surgeons standing by in case something went bad. He walked away with nothing more than some mangled flesh and a few broken teeth.
  • Busman's Holiday
    • One neurosurgeon was called in to perform on a motorcycle driver that was not wearing a helmet. On the way to the hospital he stumbled upon another motorcycle driver that crashed without a helmet, so he kept this guy stabilized until the ambulance showed up, covering himself in blood in the meantime.
    • On a cruise ship, a kid slammed his hand in a door so hard that it was barely hanging on by a flap of skin. The sick bay doctor paged the entire ship asking if there were any hand surgeons on board, seriously doubting any sort of response as hand surgeons often travel from hospital to hospital. Five minutes later, three hand surgeons showed up in Hawaiian shirts asking where the patient was.
  • Camp Gay / Camp Straight: His orientation is not stated, but Nurse Terry Foster has a fairly campy voice and demeanour.
  • Chekhov's Gun: If the reenactment or narration makes much of a seemingly minor detail, you can be pretty sure it will turn out to be relevant to the patient's diagnosis, or resurface in some other way:
    • In "Ice Cold Mom", doctors wonder if the eponymous patient has recently been on vacation, since she appears to be tanned. They ask her husband about it, and he tells them that she's always been tanned, even though the rest of her Irish family is very pale. The patient turns out to have Addison's disease, whose symptoms include darkening of the skin. When the actual patient (i.e. not the actor) is shown, treatment of the disease has restored her skin to its natural paleness.
    • In "Minutes to Live", Dr. Joy Slade's introduction puts a lot of focus on her habit of wearing expensive shoes in the emergency department. At the end of the episode, when Slade believes her patient has not survived, a nurse who recognizes her by her shoes is able to inform her that in fact she did survive. "The way that I found out that my patient was alive, was because of my shoes!"
  • The Coats Are Off: In an unusual case of this, when shooter Damacio Ibarra Torres was shooting any doctor he could find, the doctors all took off their coats to claim they were nurses.
  • Code Silver: Happens every so often.
  • Coughing Up Blood: Sometimes patients come into the ER doing this, for various reasons. For instance, one man who was a landlord accidentally swallowed a thumbtack, which had fallen from the ceiling as his tenant was using them to secure a poster up there.
  • Crazy-Prepared: ER docs have to be. And some patients as well.
    • One mother had her daughter (who were both deaf) wear a bunch of bracelets. On the bracelets, hidden from view, was info about her and other people, including the contact info of nearby relatives and to call 911. This saved the woman's life when she started to flatline repeatedly.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: In "Man with Two Faces", a man with untreated schizophrenia claimed that he had "someone else's face". The doctor initially assumed this to be a delusion or hallucination, but the patient showed him a driver's license that confirmed his face had indeed changed significantly. It turned out he had a lung tumour pressing against a large vein, preventing blood from draining from his face.
  • Cutting the Knot: Sometimes required due to red tape and paperwork.
    • A patient who desperately needed surgery couldn't be treated at the small clinic where he was diagnosed, but his insurance wouldn't pay for the ambulance service to take him to a bigger hospital. Unable to cut through the red tape to arrange transport for their patient, the doctors hit upon a counter-intuitive solution: they called 911, which the ambulance service is contractually obliged to respond to even when the call comes from a hospital. The bill from the ambulance service went to the hospital, and not the patient.
    • When a hospital was placed in lockdown while under attack by a gunman, A neurosurgeon needed to get to the ER to treat his fellow doctor who was shot in the head. The guard wouldn't let him out, so he left through the kitchen's one-way exit. Note that the gunman hadn't been located, so he could have been shot at any second.
  • Deus ex Machina: Sometimes can save the day.
  • Driven to Suicide: A lot of cases show up in the ER.
    • A medical student who had recently failed his final exams hung himself in his own triage bay- he only survived because he was already in the hospital.
    • One man became so distraught about his wife's death in the ER he planned on doing a Suicide by Cop, by shooting and managing to kill one of the doctors.
  • Ear Ache
    • One woman had a june bug crawl into her ear. The doctor had to squirt a lot of lidocaine into her ear to drown the bug. After 20 minutes, he pulled it out only for it to revive and start to struggle in his forceps.
    • A man stabbed himself in the ear with an ice pick to remove the evil spirits in there.
    • A man was brought in whose only apparent symptom was intermittent shrieking. The doctors were ready to send him up to psych until a nurse discovered a bug gnawing on the inside of his ear.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Some patients mistake serious symptoms for something far more innocuous, or something supernatural but medically inconsequential. This includes at least two patients who misinterpreted their grand mal seizures: One who mistook them for simple fainting, and another who mistook them for demonic possession.
  • Eye Scream:
    • One man inadvertently poured bleach into his eyes- his wife had put some bleach into a bottle with an eyedropper for treating her athlete's foot.
    • Another man's eyeball had been forced forwards by abnormal pressure within the eye socket, protruding out in front of his eyelids. The ER staff had to improvise a covering from a taped-on paper cup to shield it from light while they waited for a specialist to explain how to safely get it back into place.
  • Flaying Alive: An extremely intoxicated man with torn-up clothes was being treated for numerous gash-wounds. When he leaned over to vomit, his long hair and scalp drooped forward over his face. Turns out he'd gotten his curls caught in the mechanism of a mall escalator, which yanked on them hard enough to deglove most of his skull.
  • From Bad to Worse: Several, of course! In one particular case, a man accidentally punctured a can of spray paint, which got all over his face, so he went to the ER complaining that his eyes were burning. Turns out he was so sensitive to it that his throat started to swell completely shut.
  • From Dress to Dressing: Dra. Candice Myhre, takes her shirt off and uses it as a bandage for a guy who received a huge cut in his leg on the beach.
  • Good Victims, Bad Victims: Most of the show's patients are "good" victims. Others are difficult to have much (if any) sympathy for, generally because they're assholes, or caused their condition with stupidity, or both.
    • In "Diagnosis Grumpy", an elderly patient is brought in on suspicions of cardiovascular disease. As the title suggests, he is pretty grumpy, but worse than that, he spends most of his time making misogynistic comments towards the female staff. He's so abrasive and disrespectful that he puts most of them on edge, even prompting one to storm out.
      • He becomes more sympathetic later, when a neighbour's young daughter comes to visit, and he suddenly morphs into a kindly old man, treating her like a cherished granddaughter. In the end, it's revealed that his unpleasant behaviour is the result of unresolved grief over his deceased wife. Once this comes to light, he apologizes to the women he insulted, and looks set to turn over a new leaf.
    • More than one patient ends up having his infidelity discovered when more than one of his partners visits him in the ER. Even if you feel sympathetic for their condition, it's hard to feel bad for them getting found out and facing their partners' wrath.
      • One is a mixed case: A young man's adultery was causing so much stress that he gave himself a stroke. Hard not to feel at least a little bad for a guy who can't speak, and can't even react to seeing his wife and two girlfriends discover each other, except for the heart monitor showing his heart rate skyrocket. Then the sympathy levels plummet again when, after he recovers, the doctor advises him to learn from this and stop cheating if only for his own health, and he says he "can't". And then he asks the doctor if she's married.
    • Some of the "bad victims" aren't even actually victims. See Playing Sick.
  • Groin Attack: Usually self-inflicted.
    • A patient came in about an erection he'd had for a few hours after taking Viagra. When his wife arrives and discovers his mistress there, the ensuing fight starts with one woman reaching across his bed to attack the other, leaning right over his groin and causing him even more pain.
    • One patient had taken black market Viagra to surprise his girlfriend for Valentine's Day. Problem was it was horse Viagra and he went into the ER after the third day with the erection. The urologist was called as the blood was so clotted it had to be manually drained with surgery.
    • Another patient had this when his girlfriend suggested he stick his penis into a camping stove and she would.... have relations with him on the other side. Needless to say, he got stuck and had to come into the ER with the stove still attached. A urologist had to drain blood out to reduce the swelling so the stove could be removed.
  • High-Pressure Blood: Some real gushers, either from severed arteries or from body cavities filling up from internal hemorrhaging.
  • Human Popsicle
    • A 24-year-old man was exposed to a subzero temperature for over four hours. His internal temperature was only 74°F (23°C). Since it happened over such a long period of time, his body went into hibernation and shut his brain down, so the oxygen loss did not do as much damage.
    • This was also deliberately invoked for therapeutic hypothermia. After massive heart attacks, some doctors will lower the patient's internal temperature to 89°F (32°C) to slow down the brain and heart enough that they can heal without aggravating the damage.
    • A patient came in presenting with severe confusion and other symptoms. She had not been exposed to cold, so the doctors were astonished to find that her temperature was 88°F (31°C), and wondered how on earth she was still conscious.
  • MacGyvering: Sometimes has to be done to save a patient.
    • One patient came in with a large hole in her heart. The doctor temporarily plugged it using two inflated Foley catheters to bide time until the cardiac surgeons got there.
    • A little girl fell into a cactus and covered her stomach and limbs with needles, so the ER team initially tried pulling the needles out one-by-one using tweezers. When the doctor realized this was going to take hours, he got the idea to use bikini wax, recalling an ad he saw earlier. It worked like a charm, and doubles as a Chekhov's Gun, too!
      • A similar technique was used for a drunk man who had fallen naked onto a cactus. The doctor sent a staff member to get some bikini wax, but the store didn't have any, so the doctor instructed him to buy as much white glue as he could find. It worked.
    • A patient was poisoned with antifreeze. The hospital didn't have the antidote in stock, but the doctor was aware that alcohol could have many of the same effects, so he sent someone to buy some cheap rum to give the patient.
  • Made of Iron: Some of the patients. Unfortunately, it doesn't protect you from long-term damage and side effects.
    • One patient had been stabbed in the heart, with blood pouring into the pericardium/sac around it. By the time he got into the OR, there was over a liter of blood in the sac, and the pressure got too great for his heart to pump anymore. The second they drained it, his heartbeat suddenly went back to normal along with his blood pressure.
    • A doctor was shot in the head by a gunman in the hospital. He came to after 30 seconds wondering what happened. He still was major neurological issues with physical movements and PTSD, but is nonetheless very glad to be alive.
  • Magical Defibrillator: A patient had an alarmingly fast heart rate due to meth use. When he tried to run off he got tasered, which defibrillated his heart and restored normal rhythm.
  • Meatgrinder Surgery: Done a lot in the ER, usually to keep a patient alive long enough to get them to the actual surgeons. Even the proper medical treatment can be this. One patient's brain was swollen, so the doctors trepanned them to relieve pressure. Meaning they drilled a hole in the patient's skull- not even with an electric drill, but a hand-operated one.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: More like minor injury reveals major underlying condition. One episode had a minor concussion (kid took a baseball to the head while wearing a helmet) turn into a major brain bleed. Turns out he was slowly being poisoned by something in his house that was causing his bones to be weaker then they should be.
  • Nice Guy: Many of the doctors and nurses featured on the show are very kind and friendly people. A few that stand out are Nurse Terry Foster, Dr. Christopher Michos, and Dr. Kip Adrian. Nurse Terry has a very gentle, soothing beside manner. Dr. Adrian has a reputation among his colleagues for never letting anything get him down. If the dramatization in "Ice Cold Mom" is to be believed, he can even stay friendly to a kid who screams through a shot, throws a lollipop he was just given, and then sticks his tongue out at him.
  • Oh, Crap!: A common trope. Usually when a patient suddenly gets a lot worse, they flatline, or the ER suddenly gets swamped.
    • On Halloween, a guy walked in with an axe in his head complaining of a headache. The doctors, accustomed to fake injuries on Halloween, laughed and put him in another room. One of the doctors played along and "inspected" the wound, and came up with blood on his hand...
    • A rather depressed medical student failed his final exams and hung himself in his triage bay.
  • Older Than They Look: Dr. Jessica Mason, from "Medieval Mayhem," has this problem. She's a full-fledged doctor in her 20s-30s, but most people assume she is much younger. She has actually been accused of being 12-13, and many patients assume she is either a nurse or intern. Dr. Mason can in fact be a Deadpan Snarker to those who make comments.
  • Open Heart Dentistry: Recurring trope on the show as sometimes a patient is so critical that the ER doctors have to perform surgery right then and there.
    • One episode featured a med student with a background in biochemistry and pharmacology who ended up delivering a baby- rather, watching in shock while a nurse delivered the baby. A family with the mother in labor walked into the wrong section of the hospital, where the med student was, and the instructor ordered him to help the woman. He had been a resident for 4 days, and didn't even know where the emergency room was.
    • The ER crash team once had to perform a 'splash and slash', meaning they had zero time to do any sort of preparations, save for splashing antiseptic onto the patient and cutting them open.
    • Another case saw an example Open Heart Construction. A guy had stepped in concrete, but by the time he got to the ER it had hardened completely. The doctor had to saw through it in the ER.
    • In an ER during the worst of the Iraq War, the doctors got swamped with casualties. At one point they had to get an E-2 administrator (basically a secretary with a military rank) to keep pressure on a wound.
    • In an inversion, a man brought his beagle who was not breathing and had open wounds to the ER as it was the closest medical facility. The man was so distraught the doctors improvised and saved the day.
    • A patient's face was mangled from a dog bite, but there were no on-call plastic surgeons to reconstruct her face, so the ER doctor called on an old colleague. Unfortunately the colleague was tied up in surgery, so the doctor decided to do most of it himself, leaving just the lip for the colleague to do when he arrived. Then the colleague got stuck in traffic, so the doctor did that part himself too, including repairing a severed facial muscle. In spite of having sore arms and a sore back from doing photography the day before, he did such a good job on both procedures that the colleague was amazed, and the patient healed completely, with almost no trace of her horrific injury.
    • A more literal example than most: When a stabbing victim flatlined before the surgeon could arrive, an ER doctor had to perform a thoracotomy (open-heart surgery) to diagnose and treat a case of cardiac tamponade (in which the sac around the heart fills with fluid and starts putting too much pressure on the heart). She also improvised a makeshift solution to stem the bleeding, which kept her alive long enough for the surgeon to arrive. After surgery, the patient made a full recovery.
  • Out with a Bang: Nearly happened to a patient in "Pipe in Head"; a woman with an undiagnosed bleeding disorder almost died after losing her virginity on her wedding night, because her newly broken hymen wouldn't stop bleeding.
  • Playing Sick: Sometimes the patients are faking it, oftentimes to get narcotics, or avoid something unpleasant.
    • One "patient" faked unconsciousness to escape an argument with his wife, diverting time, personnel, and resources from other patients in the emergency department. (For the record, the argument with his wife was because he cheated on her at a bachelor party, so no sympathy there either.) His wife was also worried sick, and wracked with guilt thinking she had caused his condition somehow by yelling at him. Not only that, but the paramedics and staff treating him wasted time and energy taking precautionary measures against what they assumed to be a contagious rash — which turned out to be lipstick from whoever he was cheating with. (And it's implied to have been multiple people, as the doctor notices there is more than one colour of lipstick.) Both the doctor and the wife are completely pissed when they realize he was faking, and the doctor does not hold back in upbraiding him for it.
    • A young armed forces veteran had a bad case of Munchausen Syndrome; he made it appear that he has razor blades in his stomach by taping the blades to his dog tags and then putting the dog tags under his back when he gets X-rayed. Meanwhile, between tests, he regales the staff and fellow patients with stories from his time in the forces, reveling in the attention and sympathy. When his deception is discovered, he tries to use his veteran status to guilt the staff for calling him out. The only possible sympathy here is for the fact that he has an untreated mental disorder.
    • Another case is a drug-seeking patient who fakes abdominal pain to get morphine. When the doctor refuses to administer more medication after finding nothing wrong, she yells at him and threatens to report him before storming out. (The doctor pulls a fast one on her by phoning his identical twin, who works at the hospital she said she would head to next.) Again, the only possible source of sympathy here is that the patient obviously has an addiction.
    • One patient complains of paralysis and intense pain in his legs. All tests come back normal, and he insists he needs strong pain medication, so the doctor suspects he's faking in order to get drugs. Despite the patient's impressive acting — not responding to even the most painful stimuli the doctor can muster — the doctor decides to discharge him (in a wheelchair). Eventually, they spot the patient on security cameras as he gets out of the wheelchair and steals drugs from a cabinet. (Ironically, he sustains an actual leg injury when he gets tackled by security guards.)
  • Ripped from the Headlines: A couple of stories are pretty much enactments of actual news stories. The rampage of Damacio Ibarra Torres was told from the perspective of the medical staff treating their colleague who was shot in the head.
  • Running Gag: In the high-heeled-shoe-puncture case, the doctor's attempts to explain what a spleen is for keep getting interrupted at exactly the same point. She eventually gets fed up and tells the newest interrupter to wait so she can finally finish.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: One patient was the wife of a senior doctor, who tried to pressure the brand new attending physician to send her straight to surgery based on his unconfirmed diagnosis. (The ER doctor stood his ground, and discovered that she didn't need surgery after all.)
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: One doctor couldn't treat his patient without breaking hospital protocol. His superiors were not happy when he went ahead and broke it, and he was made to answer for his actions. His response was that he would have done the same for any of the people enforcing the policy.
    • The entire staff joins in on this trope when the stickler charge nurse refuses to let a car crash victim's injured dog - the former military-service dog of the victim's husband, who'd recently died in Afghanistan - be treated for a collapsed lung. Not only do the EMTs hide the animal in their ambulance so the charge nurse won't see it, but the X-ray techs sneak their gear out to the ambulance bay to image its chest, and a whole crowd of nurses shield the gurney from her sight when they bring the dog inside for a chest-tube, keeping it alive until a vet can finally arrive.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: In "Short-Circuited Heart", a patient had created so much isometric muscle contraction by trying to squeeze out a "liver demon" that she believed she'd been cursed with, that she'd caused her muscles to break down and flood her kidneys with toxins. In trying to solve a problem that only existed in her head, she'd given herself kidney failure.
  • Shot to the Heart: In "Stabbed in the Heart", the eponymous patient's heart stops in Dr. Andy Brown's hands. When cardiac massage alone doesn't do the trick, he asks for a mg of epinephrine, and injects it directly into the patient's heart. It's implied he does it two or three times in total.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: While stories on this show generally end with the patients pulling through, occasionally there patient leaves with additional cause to be cheerful, such as the accidentally-gunshot bride who (thanks to standard blood tests) got to tell her fiancé they were expecting.
  • Terrified of Germs: The young man and his father from "Don't Touch Me!"
  • Unluckily Lucky: Many of the patients go through horrific accidents or illnesses, to be sure, but oftentimes they are saved by luck you couldn't buy with all the money in the world.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: One patient almost died after being bitten by a young child. He was on immunosuppressant drugs and his body couldn't fight off the bacteria, so he went into septic shock.
  • Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Averted in one episode. A man with hemorrhoids and heart problems was coming in with frequent bouts of bradycardia while his wife was with him. His wife is unbelievably nice to both her husband and the staff. The workers start thinking she might be this trope and is poisoning her husband. They were half right. During one his bradycardia bouts, one doctor asks the wife what happened and she explains that she was just giving him his hemorrhoid cream. The doctor looks at the bottle and discovers that he the bottle was his heart medication, nitroglycerine, which causes expands blood vessels and causes blood to gather in the heart. So while the wife was the one making her husband sick, it was by accident and her kindness was genuine all along.
  • The Wonka: Some of the doctors, mainly as a way to get through the day. Doctor Christopher Michos made a habit of getting rather eccentric-patterned scrubs.
    • Sean Bush, with his unkempt beard and stringy ponytail, looks like 30-something hipster yet is one of the best venom experts and doctors in the world.
    • Dr. Joy Slade wears expensive suede high heels in the emergency department. She can walk and even run just fine in them; though they do require double booties when it's time to gown up.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Way too often with head trauma. Orthopedic and neurosurgeons try to piece it back together.
    • One woman was saved by this! She took two point blank shots to the head, thankfully to only one hemisphere of her brain. What kills a lot of head trauma patients is that the brain starts to swell against the cranium, which results in fatal hemorrhaging. The fact that her skin was the only thing holding her heavily fractured skull together is what ended up saving her life, as it gave her brain room to swell without too much damage.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/UntoldStoriesOfTheER