After 10 years at County General, John Carter has risen to a role of respect and leadership. His recently graduated colleague, Abby Lockhart finds that being a good doctor is as tough as being a good nurse. Chief of Staff Kerry Weaver remains tough - but the loss of her life partner and a bitter custody battle have worn on her.
After 10 years at Chicago's County General Hospital, Attending Physician Dr. John Carter (series star NOAH WYLE) has risen to a role of respect and moral leadership in the emergency room. His recently graduated colleague Abby Lockhart (series star MAURA TIERNEY) proudly dons a doctor's white lab coat for the first time.
Lonely, Carter struggles with his unfulfilled dreams in the wake of his girlfriend's departure--and lurches towards a dangerous temporary solution. New doctor Abby deals with resentful nurses and tends to a tearful, injured young woman kidnapped from Mexico and forced into sexual slavery. Meanwhile, Kovac makes a confession to a fleeing Sam.
On a busy Fourth of July weekend, Carter oversees an understaffed hospital that is flooded with patients. An HIV-positive biker remains brain dead as the result of a robbery, and his girlfriend wants to donate one of his organs to his friend, who is also infected with HIV.
Two small children are rushed to the emergency room after falling out of a third-floor window. The medical staff believes an abusive father is responsible for the tragedy, but the truth is later revealed. While treating a man who complains of an unsightly rash, Pratt diagnoses the real problem--the patient has lung cancer.
Neela starts a new job in the emergency room after working at the convenience store near the hospital. On Neela's first day, Pratt expects the interns, Abby, Ray and Neela, to take on a large patient load during their shifts. Pratt turns processing the patients into a competition, in which Ray is clearly going to be the winner.
This groundbreaking episode traces real-time events in the emergency room as Kovac, Abby and Sam struggle to save the life of Charlie Metcalf (RAY LIOTTA - "GoodFellas," "Field of Dreams"), a man who complains of stomach pain but is later diagnosed with a life-threatening condition.
Sam and Kovac treat a woman who was brutally beaten and raped and wants to help the police--although she can barely speak. Lewis schedules a surprise JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) emergency drill. Carter and Abby tend to a girl complaining of kidney problems, but that's just the beginning of her adventure.
When a police officer shot during a robbery is rushed to the emergency room, Lewis, Neela and Ray stabilize him, but the injuries to his carotid artery, which supplies blood to the brain, leave him in a coma.
On Christmas Eve, the emergency room staff scrambles to finish work and go home for the holiday. While Abby treats a dialysis patient who is in critical condition, she can't reach his personal physician because he doesn't want to be disturbed during the holidays.
Recently promoted to Chief of Emergency Medicine, Lewis finds out how hard it is to be in charge of her colleagues. Patient satisfaction scores are down from the previous years, and it's primarily because the residents are not spending enough time listening to the patients--especially Neela, which surprises Kovac.
In an effort to raise plummeting patient satisfaction scores, Lewis directs Kovac to teach the residents effective patient communication. Two teenagers are brought to the emergency room with gunshot wounds. Kovac, Neela and Sam treat one victim while Lewis, Pratt and Ray attend to another.
When a 16-year-old girl who had received a kidney transplant from her father arrives at the emergency room feeling dizzy, Carter traces the problem to a new drug that the girl was taking to control seizures related to her kidney dysfunction.
While examining a young boy, Pratt finds a suspicious gash across his chest and calls Wendall (recurring guest star M??DCHEN AMICK) for a consult. Kovac and Pratt examine a man who was shot when he confronted his boss with a gun. Jake (recurring guest star EION BAILEY) tries to convince Abby to date him despite his being a student.
Weaver encounters an evasive patient, Helen Kingsley (FRANCES FISHER - "Titanic," "House of Sand and Fog"), who shocks her by revealing that she is her birth mother, who at the age of 15 delivered Weaver and put her up for adoption.
When Ellie Shore (CYNTHIA NIXON - "Sex and the City"), a young mother of three, is brought in with symptoms of a potentially fatal stroke, Kovac and Sam fight the odds to save her life. Knowing that a controversial surgical procedure is his wife's only chance at a full recovery, Ellie's husband must make the unenviable decision to risk her life in order to save it.
In Iraq, a young girl is wounded in a car bombing, and local hospitals are not equipped to help. Michael Gallant (former series star SHARIF ATKINS), who is stationed in Iraq, enlists Neela's support to secure the necessary treatment at County General, but getting the girl to the United States proves to be extremely difficult.
Neela is surprised when she hears that Gallant (former series star SHARIF ATKINS) came to the emergency room with a young Iraqi burn victim. Sam is troubled by a visit from her ex-husband. Pratt treats a child whose gun discharged, and the doctor learns that the boy received the weapon from an unusual source.
The staff treats a woman suffering from the effects of a hunger strike, but the patient refuses to accept food or help until she has proof that the INS (U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service) will grant her son's deportation case a new hearing.
Eighty-five-year-old Jules "Ruby" Rubadoux (recurring guest star Academy Award winner RED BUTTONS - "Sayonara," "The Poseidon Adventure") is wheeled into the emergency room and erroneously accuses Carter of killing Ruby's wife 10 years ago.
Much to everyone's chagrin, Dr. Archie Morris (recurring guest star SCOTT GRIMES - "Band of Brothers") is appointed as the new chief resident and immediately challenges Pratt as they treat casualties from an apartment building fire. Frustrated at not achieving tenure, Lewis is short-tempered with Carter.
Pratt loudly reprimands Neela for performing a complicated procedure on a baby; Abby misdiagnoses a patient; and Ray's procedural misstep on a victim who was stabbed produces terrible results.
On Carter's final shift at County General, four new interns begin their medical careers. After completing their rounds, Carter, Kovac and most of the emergency room staff attend Carter's surprise going-away party. Ray leaves to go to another event where the revelry is interrupted by a disaster that truly tests his triage abilities.