"Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"
9 p.m. Dec. 1, NBC
The Premise: Twenty-six-year-old Caitlin Lemarck throws a party at which she is attacked, and her head is smashed against a mirror. She has a seizure and is taken to the hospital, where she goes into cardiac arrest. The emergency room doctors aren't able to resuscitate her, and she dies of bleeding into her brain (a subdural hematoma). Upon examining Lemarck's body, Dr. Melinda Warner ( Tamara Tunie), the New York City medical examiner, discovers injury and other evidence that leads her to believe that Lemarck was raped by one of the paramedics, Tinta, who brought her to the hospital. Tinta admits to the crime while speaking to his partner Mike, who is secretly taping the conversation. Tinta, discovering that he is being taped, tries to commit suicide by injecting air into his jugular vein, and he loses consciousness.
On what basis would head trauma cause a seizure? What is a subdural hematoma and how frequently is it fatal? What emergency diagnostics and intervention could help save a patient after severe head trauma? Would injecting a vein with air cause death?
Seizure is common in head trauma, caused when the force of a blow interrupts the brain's electrical pathways, says Dr. Mark Morocco, UCLA associate emergency medicine residency director. Subdural hematoma is bleeding into the space between the dura — the "bag" that surrounds the brain — and the brain itself, Morocco says. It is usually caused by the shearing of veins that bridge the brain and skull. Death occurs in approximately 50% of cases.