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Here's Why Doctors and Nurses Are So Furious About Jack's Death On 'This Is Us'

Self logo Self 2/8/2018 Korin Miller
a man standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera © Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Fans of This Is Us have known since the very first episode that Jack, the show’s dad, dies at some point. But the way it happens has been a mystery—until Sunday’s show. In the episode, we learn that a faulty slow cooker started a fire in the family’s home on Super Bowl Sunday and Jack heroically spent a lot of time in the burning house saving his family and their dog.

Jack suffered some burns on his hands and smoke inhalation, but it seems like he and the whole family are OK. The family heads to the hospital where Jack is examined by a doctor, still seeming fine other than having a cough. His wife Rebecca leaves the room to try to reserve a hotel room and check on the kids. But, while she’s gone, Jack has a heart attack (supposedly caused by the smoke inhalation) and dies. Rebecca comes back to learn that her husband is gone and is so shocked that she takes a bite of a candy bar before responding.

The episode aired days ago, but people still can’t get over the whole thing—including a slew of nurses on Twitter who say that Jack could have been saved.

So we connected with several nurses and doctors who say this TV death was totally preventable—and there are a few reasons why.

"He should have been swarmed when he got to the ER," Patrick Cane, D.N.P., R.N., an assistant professor at Michigan State University’s College of Nursing, tells SELF.

When you have a house fire, it’s pretty likely that the fire department and medical crew are going to arrive pretty quickly—and insist that you go to the hospital in an ambulance. “His treatment would have started [before he even got] to the hospital,” Crane says. “Nurses in the ER would have likely taken the ambulance call, and would have been informed what the situation is.”

Although Jack was given oxygen in the ambulance, he wasn't when he made it to the hospital, an omission that's unlikely to happen in real life. He “clearly does not look good and is forgetful—a possible sign of carbon monoxide poisoning or hypoxemia [a severely low oxygen deficiency],” Raymond Casciari, M.D., a pulmonologist with St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif., tells SELF.

"His death was 100 percent preventable had the right equipment been used," Mallory Perry, M.S., R.N., C.P.N., a pediatric intensive care nurse at Connecticut Children's Medical Center, tells SELF.

Jack was covered in a lot of black soot and it was pretty obvious he wasn't looking so great, Perry says. But even though a doctor mentioned he had swelling in his lungs, everyone seemed more concerned with his second-degree burns. According to Perry, they could have used a pulse oximeter, a little finger monitor that tells how much oxygen is in a person's blood, Perry says. "Had it been on Jack, they would have noticed his oxygen levels were much lower and that he needed oxygen," Perry says. "That could have prevented the heart attack."

Jack was clearly struggling and coughing, which probably would have caused medical experts to spring into action.

"If there’s significant smoke inhalation…the person can’t breathe," Susan Besser, M.D., a primary care physician at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, tells SELF. “Significant smoke inhalation can cause inflammation in the lungs and respiratory distress—think, really bad emphysema."

If it’s bad enough (as in Jack’s case), the person will likely need to be intubated, meaning there’s a tube placed down their throat to help them breathe, while their lungs heal, she says. "More people die from smoke inhalation after a fire than die of burns," Dr. Casciari says.

"He would have been run through a battery of tests," John Alexis, M.D., an emergency medicine physician at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, tells SELF.

When you go to the hospital after a fire, doctors generally assume that you might have internal issues and order a bunch of tests, Dr. Alexis says. Those include an electrocardiogram to see how your heart is doing, and blood tests to check your carbon monoxide and cyanide levels. A chest X-ray may also be ordered to see how your lungs are doing. "That's all standard," Dr. Alexis says.

But seriously, where were all the nurses?

"In the ER, there weren’t really nurses present (or at least visible) which is highly unusual," Crane points out. Smoke inhalation is no joke—it can cause your airways and lungs to become inflamed and limit the amount of oxygen you receive in your body, Crane says.

That’s why IRL Jack would have had a team of nurses or least had one nurse with him, who would have given him an IV, taken his vitals, and put an oxygen mask on him, at the very least, Crane says. “A number of things would have been done by nurses before the physician arrived in the room,” he says. “It’s a very team-based approach.”

And, hopefully, doctors wouldn’t have given up on Jack so quickly, Dr. Casciari says. “For a man this young with a treatable injury, the resuscitation would go on for up to a hour and all the stops would be pulled out,” he says.

So Jack may never get the ending he truly deserves. But at least you can rest a little easier knowing that you'd probably have a much better shot in real life. However, there's not much we can do for your broken heart—other than offer our sympathy.

Slideshow: 20 questions you're too afraid to ask your doctor (but should) (Courtesy: Mom.me) 


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