The Opposite of “Serious Emergency Care” [Cartoon]


Hospital billboards and health system advertising can be a curious thing. One ad that I see driving between San Antonio and Austin is one that promises:

“Serious E.R. Care”

Or something like that. I don't have a picture of it because taking photos while driving might lead to an visit to the emergency department (safety first!).

The ad slogan, like many from hospitals, is pretty meaningless. What is “serious” care? Nobody smiles? Doesn't every hospital have a pretty serious E.R.? Does “serious” lead to better outcomes? Lower mortality? Higher patient satisfaction?

Does the ad slogan attract more patients?

That got me thinking… what would the opposite of “serious care” look like? This led to my latest cartoon collaboration with Carrie Schurman (see all of them). We apparently have two competing health systems with different philosophies in this town… Serious Health System that provides “SERIOUS' care and a Silly Health System that… well…


Do you have a better caption? Leave a comment below.

What other hospital ad slogans do you see that are silly, unproven, or meaningless?


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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

  1. Mark Graban says

    From Twitter:

    William Hoefle ‏@AlexRogoConsult

    @MarkGraban @CarrieHowarth1 Do hospitals need to advertise?Not sure I have ever flipped through the yellow pages for the best ER.. location.

  2. Mark Graban says

    From LInkedin:

    John T Bushling:

    I’m always curious about the hospital billboards that advertise ER wait time (that changes depending upon the current ER situation) . Who is their audience? Certainly not the ambulance.

    1. Mark Graban says

      Those billboards are a great example of “data without context.” They are usually averages, not real time. And, they don’t say what that wait means. Wait to be triaged? Wait to see a doctor? What about total ER length of stay??

  3. Mark Graban says

    I managed to eat a “Serious Brunch” today – this was the sign at the Liberty Bar in San Antonio.

    It was not served by clowns :-)

    1. Carrie says

      There seems to be a serious theme in that area. I like that it’s on both floors one and two.

      1. Mark Graban says

        It would be fun to have a have a choice of serious brunch and clown brunch on those two floors.

  4. Chris says

    This is too funny. It makes me think of Patch Adams & the old adage that laughter is the best medicine. It seems that this ER disagrees with that sentiment. Then again, if the sign had read “Hilarious E.R. Care” I definitely wouldn’t want to go there…at least not as a patient. :)

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