The True Story Behind Netflix’s New Thriller Series

The Big Picture

  • The Nurse is a Danish thriller on Netflix that tells the story of a nurse who suspects her colleague of causing the deaths of healthy patients through cardiac arrest.
  • The series explores the bond between the rookie nurse, Pernille, and her experienced colleague, Christina, as they work together in the emergency room.
  • Pernille’s suspicions grow as she notices a pattern of patient deaths and missing drugs, and she must gather strong evidence to support her accusations against Christina.


Another biopic about a sociopathic killer nurse has hit Netflix and is quickly making its way up the streamer’s top 10 television shows list. The Danish thriller The Nurse is the compelling story of an “angel of death,” a woman who works in a Danish hospital. Suspicion arises when relatively healthy patients start to die from unrelated cardiac arrest. The series is based on a book written by Kristian Corfixen, titled The Nurse: The True Story Behind One Of Scandinavia’s Most Notorious Criminal Trials, and stars Fanny Louise Bernth as Pernille Kurzmann, a nurse who is working her first job after graduating from nursing school. The story is told from her point of view as she is quickly befriended by Christina Aistrup Hansen (Josephine Park), an older and more experienced emergency room nurse at Nykobing Falster Hospital. The story is similar in many regards to the Netflix movie from 2022 starring Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne called The Good Nurse but, instead, it’s packed into four episodes that run less than an hour and wastes little time developing the character and the horrifying true events that occurred between 2012-2015.

The Nurse TV Show Poster

The Nurse

A new nurse at a hospital begins to suspect that her colleague’s desire for attention might be tied to a series of patient deaths.

Release Date
April 27, 2023

Genres
Crime , Drama , Biography

Cast
Fanny Louise Bernth , Josephine Park , Peter Zandersen , Dick Kaysø

Seasons
1


Who Are Pernille and Christina?

Pernille is a single mom and rookie nurse who nervously arrives at Nykobing Falster Hospital eager to get started in the hectic emergency room. She quickly becomes familiar with all the other staff at the hospital as she gets up to speed with her new job. All her co-workers are friendly and form a cohesive unit that is tasked with dealing with the most urgent cases that come through the door. Before she can even get her name tag on, there is an emergency code blue call and this sets the pace for the tension-filled story. Soon thereafter, Pernille is just one of the gang and starts to work very closely with a veteran nurse named Christina, an adrenaline enthusiast who seems to thrive on the drama of the emergency room. She’s an excellent nurse, though, and often knows as much or more about how to diagnose and treat patients as the doctors in the room. She and Pernille start working the late night shift and become close friends. Christina shows the new nurse the ropes, and they start calling themselves “the dream team” after working together to save several patients from near-death illnesses and cardiac arrest.

Something Is Strange About Christina

The Nurse does an excellent job of keeping the four-part limited miniseries clicking along at a brisk pace. Every scene serves to move the story forward and develop both the tone and two main character arcs. After a “honeymoon phase” of working closely with Christina, Pernille starts to notice a significant increase in the number of patients who are either young without any history of heart-related problems or are being treated for non-life-threatening illnesses that are experiencing sudden bouts of acute cardiac arrest. Christina is at her very best when she is under stress. She appears to really get off on the life-and-death situations that require life-saving CPR techniques and shots of adrenaline to restart the hearts of patients who are dead on the table. Sometimes the patient is revived, but they frequently die, and it starts to wear on Pernille, who is still trying to get used to the breakneck pace of the ER. But Christina is noticeably ambivalent about the unusually high death rate, playing it off as just part of the job.

Related

New ‘The Nurse’ Trailer Shows a Tension-Filled Hunt to Expose the Truth

The Danish crime series stars Josephine Park and Fanny Louise Bernth.

Pernille’s Suspicions Start to Grow

Josephine Park as Christina Aistrup and Fanny Louise Bernth as Pernille Kurzmann talking near a hospital bed in The Nurse.
Image via Netflix 

After seeing patient after patient come in and be treated to the point where they are stable only to go into cardiac arrest and die, Pernille is starting to wonder if there is a correlation between the deaths. She also notices that doses of both morphine and diazepam are missing, and the fact that these cardiac arrests are all happening during her and Christina’s night shifts. In Denmark, they do not have a strict policy of monitoring medication, so there are no records to keep track of what is being taken and when. This is how Charles Cullen was caught in The Good Nurse, but the less regulated Danish system makes it much more difficult to catch unscrupulous nurses and physicians. Pernille begins to realize that if she is going to blow the whistle on the accomplished and respected Christina, she is going to have to gather very strong evidence to support her accusations.

At First, Pernille is Not Believed

Fanny Louise Bernth as Pernille Kurzmann making an urgent phone call in Season 1, Episode 4 of The Nurse.
Image via Netflix 

When Pernille goes to administrators about her concerns over the deaths, missing drugs, and Christina’s odd behavior, she is rebuffed and encouraged to not engage in gossip that she can’t substantiate. It isn’t until she enters into a romantic relationship with a doctor at the hospital who corroborates her claims that the hospital starts to look into the more than 20 deaths that Christina has signed off on during her stint at Nykobing Falster Hospital. Without his support, Christina would likely have never been caught. After a thorough investigation, detectives reached the conclusion that Christina Aistrup Hansen was injecting lethal amounts of both morphine and diazepam (a benzo better known as Valium) directly into the bloodstream of unsuspecting patients to slow their respiratory rates and cause cardiac arrest.

Director of The Nurse, Kasper Barfoed, commented on the true story: “So many people suspected something or saw something — and yet it’s the new nurse, the one who’s in her first job who not only senses something is wrong, but who actually does something about it and risks everything,” Kurzmann still works at Nykobing Hospital today.

Hansen Goes to Jail for Her Crimes

josephine park as Christina Airstrup Hansen in a hospital in Netflix's The Nurse miniseries
Image via Netflix

After a 28-day trial in 2016, Christina Aistrup Hansen was found guilty of murder and attempted murder, and was sentenced to life in prison. After Hansen appealed the jury’s decision in 2017, her sentence was amended to four counts of attempted manslaughter, and the sentence was reduced from life to a period of 12 years. She is currently 39 years old and will be out of prison around the age of 50. A Danish psychologist diagnosed Hansen with “histrionic personality disorder,” which causes people to go to extreme lengths to draw positive attention to themselves and is considered to be among the subset of narcissistic psychiatric disorders. It doesn’t seem that the penalty fits the crime, but the show that tells the harrowing story of the killer nurse and the whistle-blowing colleague, does justice for the audience, enjoying the taut psychological thriller. Head on over to Netflix and give the short limited series an evening to binge all four episodes.

The Nurse is currently streaming on Netflix in the U.S.

Watch on Netflix

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