Reality has long been a component of television shows and movies, but these days, “make-believe” medical and emergency-rescue shows look more real than ever, thanks to the efforts of companies that produce those dramas and manufacturers that supply them with medical equipment. From stethoscopes to MRI scanners, medical equipment has gone Hollywood, eager for its close-up and ready for prime time.

 Reality has been a component of dramatic television shows and movies long before the advent of the Survivor series and its subsequent clones. Currently midway through its eighth season, the Warner Bros.’ Television (Burbank, Calif.) show ER features medical equipment used by hospitals throughout the country. That’s because manufacturers of the devices that populate the medical world, from stethoscopes to cardiopulmonary monitors to MRI scanners, collaborate with the entertainment industry to provide studio sets that are as close to reality as possible.

A show like ER employs an emergency room physician as a consultant to review scripts and offer advice about realistic equipment that would be used to manage a real crisis.

“We have concept meetings once the script is released to discuss the medical scenes in the show,” explains ER propmaster Rick Ladomade. The director, physician technical director and property master meet to determine the specific equipment required for each scene in that week’s episode. From there, a physician who is on call for each episode reviews scripts and determines whether or not scenes are portrayed accurately.

At this point in the program’s life, ER has five stages well-stocked with medical equipment. Ladomade says that a recent inventory revealed that the show maintains approximately $4.5 million of equipment from 150 different companies. That figure doesn’t include the 10,000 x-rays they own, with more available from a radiologist who provides specific film views as needed.

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