Doc­u­men­tary takes you inside the ED

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS | ASIDES & INSIDES -

Life and death strug­gles aren’t the only bat­tles rag­ing in emer­gency de­part­ments. There’s also the less vis­i­ble war be­tween doc­tors’ ideals and the chal­lenges of prac­tic­ing medicine in to­day’s po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic health­care en­vi­ron­ment.

Dr. Ryan McGarry set out to show that ten­sion in “Code Black,” a doc­u­men­tary in which he fol­lows pa­tients and fel­low physi­cians at Los An­ge­les County-USC Med­i­cal Cen­ter’s emer­gency depart­ment.

He shows doc­tors and nurses swarm­ing around pa­tients in seem­ing chaos but ex­plains the or­der in it all. McGarry also delves into the per­sonal lives and mo­ti­va­tions of other young doc­tors aim­ing to find their place while strug­gling to cut through bu­reau­cratic has­sles and help of­ten des­per­ate pa­tients.

McGarry, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of emer­gency medicine at Weill Cor­nell Med­i­cal Col­lege in New York, did his res­i­dency at LA County, and made the doc­u­men­tary from 2008 to 2012 while in train­ing there. “I didn’t sleep,” he said. He was mo­ti­vated to be­come a doc­tor by his per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence fight­ing can­cer.

Much of the film’s ac­tion takes place in “C-Booth,” L.A. County’s trauma bay, where the movie’s web­site says “more peo­ple have died and more peo­ple have been saved than in any other square footage in the United States.”

McGarry said he hopes the film helps to “dis­arm” the de­bate over health­care. “So of­ten in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics … it’s of­ten the rhetoric that takes over the dis­cus­sion and not the ac­tual is­sues that mat­ter,” he said. “You can cer­tainly have your opin­ion on health­care, but de­bate it in our wait­ing room and it would cer­tainly sound dif­fer­ent.”

The film al­ready has gar­nered a num­ber of ac­co­lades, win­ning Best Doc­u­men­tary at the Los An­ge­les Film Fes­ti­val and the Hamp­tons In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val.

The film is sched­uled to be screened at med­i­cal schools, hos­pi­tals and a few tra­di­tional movie venues through early De­cem­ber. Any­one wish­ing to sched­ule a screen­ing for their or­ga­ni­za­tion or company can fill out the form at code­black­movie.com/screen­ings.

Di­rec­tor Dr. Ryan McGarry, bot­tom right, made the doc­u­men­tary dur­ing his train­ing at

L.A. County-USC Med­i­cal Cen­ter. One of the fel­low physi­cians fea­tured is Dr. Jamie

Eng, at right.

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