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Jing-Mei "Deb" Chen
Jing mei chen
Key information
Gender Female
Hair Color Black
Occupation Physician
Specialty Emergency Medicine
Title Medical Student (1995)
Resident (2000-2001)
Chief Resident (2001)
Attending (2002-2004)
Family Dr. Chen (father; deceased)
Mrs. Chen (mother; deceased)
Children Michael Alexander (given up for adoption)
Behind the scenes
Portrayed by Ming-Na
First episode "Luck of the Draw" (guest)
"Family Matters" (regular)
Last episode "Twas the Night"
Appearances 118 episodes (see below)
Dr. Jing-Mei "Deb" Chen is an emergency room physician who used to work at County General.

Character History

Personal Life

Dr. Chen was revealed to have been very wealthy early in her appearances on the show, since both of her parents were doctors; her mother was the chief of surgery at another hospital.

Season One

Chen (then called "Deb") arrives in the middle of Season 1 as an eager young medical student who is ready to learn and develops a rivalry with John Carter.

She quits near the end of the season after almost killing a man by trying to put a central line into his chest.

At that time, Chen decides that she was better suited to medical research than to working directly with patients after seeing and growing to understand that she was only interested in the science of medicine and not the direct application of it on the people that are affected by disease or the effects of trauma on the body.

She leaves County General and discontinues her medical training.

Season Six

Chen returns to County General in Season 6 in the episode "Family Matters" as a third-year resident after her wealthy parents bought her way back into County with a large donation to the hospital.

In the episode, she reveals to Carter that four months after she quit medicine, she was inspired to return to medicine after saving a man's life on a subway. She then realized that she had a talent for medicine.

Upon her return to County, she prefers to be called by her Chinese name "Jing-Mei," although Carter continues to affectionately call her "Deb."

She and Carter resume their friendship despite not having seen or spoken with each other in five years and they continue their rivalry for a while before finally learning how to work with each other.

Chen also supported Carter as he recovered from the same near-fatal stabbing that had caused the death of medical student Lucy Knight and was also part of the group who confronted him about his drug addiction & successfully convinced him to attend a rehab facility in Atlanta.

Season Seven

In the season premiere, it is revealed that Chen is pregnant, but she doesn't tell anyone at first. When Kerry Weaver informs her that she is a candidate for Chief Resident next year, Chen tells her about her pregnancy.

When Chen tells her mother about her pregnancy and that the baby's father is black, her mother is shocked. She later decides to give the baby up for adoption and it is later revealed that Nurse Frank Bacon is the father of her child.

On Christmas Eve 2000, Chen gives birth to a baby boy with Carter by her side and gives the child to his adoptive parents who name him Michael.

At the end of the season, Chen and Carter apply for Chief Resident, but her application is declined due to her time off for maternity leave. She appeals the decision and is promoted to Chief Resident in Season 8.

Season Eight

During the early part of Season 8, Chen is having a hard time as an authority figure in the ER. Weaver is pressuring her about being indecisive.

In the episode "The Longer You Stay", Chen and Dave Malucci make a hasty decision to perform a procedure before checking all necessary tests, ultimately killing the patient who was later revealed to have symptoms associated with Marfan syndrome.

Due to the incident, Chen is forced to resign as Chief Resident, but she ends up quitting instead.

After the holidays, she returns to County to get her job back, claiming to have evidence that Weaver wasn't wearing her pager the night of the incident with the Marfan syndrome patient because she left it in the bathroom at Doc Magoo's.

In order to avoid potential lawsuits, the hospital rehires Chen as a full-time attending physician much to the dismay of Weaver which makes their relationship awkward, but it later reaches an accord after both parties impress the other with their professionalism and the need to work as comrades while under pressure from County's chaotic environment.

Towards the end of the season, new doctor Greg Pratt begins flirting with Chen.

In the season finale, she finds herself under quarantine with Pratt and a homeless patient named Stan due to a possible outbreak of smallpox at the hospital.

Season Nine

In the ninth season premiere, Chen is still shown to be under quarantine at the hospital with Pratt, Carter Abby Lockhart and Stan.

Later on in the season, she and Pratt began a relationship with each other, but it starts to deteriorate when Pratt shows that he's not serious enough about the relationship.

Season Ten

In the tenth season, Chen and Pratt end their relationship when it becomes clear she doesn't particularly like him and he has no interest in "proving himself" to her, but they later get along on decent terms.

Chen later leaves the hospital for a long period of time when she discovers that her parents have been injured in a car accident in China. When she returns to Chicago, it is revealed that her mother died in the accident, leaving Chen to care for her ailing father.

Towards the end of the season, Chen is seen struggling to cope with her father's increasing emotional instability & violent outbursts and at one point, he gives her a black eye after hitting her.

In the season finale, Chen is seen riding in Pratt's car along with his patient, Elgin. When Pratt unintentionally angers another driver on the road, the driver starts shooting at them.

Season Eleven

While trying to avoid the shooting, the car spins out of control and crashes into the Chicago River, with Chen getting shot in the leg. Although Chen and Pratt survive their injuries, Elgin succumbs to his.

In the episode "Twas the Night," Chen quits working at County after Susan Lewis refuses to allow her request to leave work to care for her father on Christmas Eve. Pratt later discovers that Chen's father is constantly asking for her to help him commit suicide.

In the end, Chen gives her father a lethal dose of his medication which causes him to immediately die; Pratt covers for her by telling the paramedics that he died in his sleep.

Chen returns to China to bury her father and lets Pratt know that she has no plans to return to the U.S. anytime soon. After that, she is not mentioned for the rest of the series.

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