BRITISH COLUMBIA

Vancouver General Hospital TV Show Challenges Viewers (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

01/17/2014 04:09 EST | Updated 01/25/2014 04:01 EST

Stab wounds. Severed fingers. Flatlining heart rates. They're all in a day's work for staff at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) and now the focus of a new TV show that premieres later this month.

"Emergency Room: Life and Death at VGH," a six-part documentary series begins Tuesday, Jan. 21 on The Knowledge Network.

"This television series is designed to challenge viewers with some of the most pressing health care issues of our time," Rudy Buttignol, Knowledge Network president and CEO, said in a news release.

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"Emergency Room: Life and Death at VGH"

The show does not shy from the grisly aspects of working in an ER.

Some of the cases shown in the series include a man with a 10-inch knife through his stomach; a heart patient whose ticker is shocked back to life; and many instances in which staff must declare a time of death, despite their efforts.

A lot of work goes into obtaining patients' consent to go on camera, said Louise Clark, president and CEO of Lark Productions. Many were actually willing to participate despite difficult situations, she said.

"Nobody who was under duress was approached in the moment," explained Clark. "We always tried to go through somebody who was there with them, or if there was somebody who was filmed and after the fact wasn't interested in participating, even though they had seemed open to it in the stressful moment, we stepped away from it."

Staff that viewers will meet include Krista, a nurse with a pacemaker; Dr. Campbell, an emergency physician who tries to keep a sense of humour about his job; and Yasmin, a unit coordinator who has to anticipate a doctor's needs in a high-stress atmosphere.

Like the patients, they too showed a great deal of interest in sharing their experiences.

"It's not an easy thing to show what you do, warts and all," Clark said. "There was an appreciation for an opportunity to show what it's like to work inside the system and inside a hospital like VGH."

Viewers will also have a chance to debate issues raised on the show such as assisted suicide, homelessness and organ transplants on an interactive site.

Lark Productions is producing the show with the Knowledge Network and Vancouver Coastal Health, the authority that oversees VGH.

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