|Season 4, Episode 3|
|Air date||October 9, 1997|
|Written by||Walon Green|
|Directed by||Felix Enriquez Alcala|
"When The Bough Breaks"
Cynthia Hooper starts as the new desk clerk. Benton and Carla disagree over whether or not their son should be circumcised. Al gets in an accident at work.
FIREWORKS IN THE ER: After insisting that she and Dr. Ross (George Clooney) keep their relationship a secret, Nurse Hathaway (Julianna Margulies) must deal with trusting Ross when Dr. Corday (Alex Kingston) flirts with him.
Dr. Greene (Anthony Edwards) and Dr. Carter (Noah Wyle) are surprised by developments in the case of a young stroke victim.
To the displeasure of everyone but Dr. Anspaugh (John Aylward), Dr. Weaver (Laura Innes) begins instituting cost-cutting measures and asks to review Ross's research proposal.
Dr. Benton (Eriq La Salle) and Carla (Lisa Nicole Carson) disagree about whether their baby needs a voluntary procedure.
Cynthia (guest star Mariska Hargitay, 'Prince Street') begins work as a new desk clerk. A surprising incident occurs when Jerry (Abraham Benrubi) examines sample merchandise brought in by a gun dealer. Gloria Reuben and Maria Bello also star.
Kerry Weaver is named acting head of emergency medicine and immediately sets about changing procedures, which alienates everyone. John Carter finds himself doing a lot of scut work since his student never seems to be in the ER. Al Boulet is involved in a work site accident but doesn't want anyone to know he is HIV positive. It's Cynthia Hooper's first day as an ER desk clerk. Having finally agreed on a name for their child, Carla Reece and Dr. Benton disagree on whether he should be circumcised. They are told he can now go home. While fiddling with a grenade launcher left at reception by a firearms dealer, Jerry Marcovic blows up a car in the parking lot and the ER entrance.
- Anthony Edwards as Mark Greene
- George Clooney as Doug Ross
- Noah Wyle as John Carter
- Julianna Margulies as Carol Hathaway
- Gloria Reuben as Jeanie Boulet
- Laura Innes as Kerry Weaver
- Maria Bello as Anna Del Amico
- Alex Kingston as Elizabeth Corday
- The title refers to military personnel who are mistakenly fired upon by their fellow troops due to the confusion on the battlefield or miscommunicated from higher authority.
Glenda: You ever hear of Colonel Draht?
Jerry Markovic: Uh-uh.
Glenda: He was doing some fine work with weapons-training patriots down in Texas.
Cynthia Hooper: Like that guy from Waco?
Dr. Doug Ross: I didn't flirt with her.
Nurse Carol Hathaway: No, no, she asked you out for a drink because she likes the way you hold an ice pack.