‘The Nurse’ Ending, Explained: Is It Based On A True Story? What Happens To Christina & Pernille?


“The Nurse,” or “Sygeplejersken” in native Danish, is a new crime drama miniseries on Netflix that presents a dramatic retelling of very real events that took place in Denmark’s Nykobing Falster. Presenting the case from the perspective of a nurse named Pernille Larsen, the miniseries is about the woman’s gradual suspicion that her colleague and friend, Christina, might be involved in the deaths of many patients at their hospital. While “The Nurse” does not bring anything unique or new to the table, it is good enough for a light but impactful watch.

 Spoilers Alert

‘The Nurse’ Plot Summary: What Is The Miniseries About?

Employing two different timelines to weave the web of its narrative, “The Nurse” begins with scenes from 2012, when a man named Arne suddenly falls sick at his house. Another man, almost of the same age, visits Arne’s house only to find him collapsed on the ground and his pet dog creating a ruckus to alarm anyone nearby. The second man, who happens to be Arne’s brother, Kenny, rushes the man to the hospital, where emergency treatment is started. When the brother and other friends and family visit Arne at the hospital later that day, the doctors assure them that there is nothing too dangerous about the man’s health. Although Arne had spent most of his life heavily drinking and smoking, a few days under medical observation would get him back on his feet. However, something very strange happens that night when the man is alone in his room. Someone seems to enter and mix a drug into Arne’s IV drip, which ultimately results in his death from heart failure.

Skipping over to some time late in 2014, the series introduces us to the protagonist, Pernille Kurzmann Larsen, a young woman who has just moved back to the city of Falster. Despite having been a single mother to her daughter Alberte for the most part, Pernille has decided to move back in with her ex-partner Morten, who is also Alberte’s father. Although the couple is not getting back together romantically, they made this decision to help Pernille with her new job. Pernille has been selected for a job as a nurse at the Nykobing Falster Hospital, and she soon starts the work. On the very first day at the place, she encounters an emergency situation when a patient seems to be having a cardiac arrest, and all the doctors and nurses rush in. Among all the nurses, one named Christina immediately catches Pernille’s attention, as she seems to have an experienced grasp over the whole situation. As the doctors congratulate Christina for her quick reactions, Pernille learns that Christina is indeed the best nurse at the facility and is also going to be her mentor for the initial few days.

While Pernille strikes up a friendship with Christina, she is introduced to the various responsibilities and procedures of a nurse. But along with this also comes Pernille’s nervousness about being unable to accept death, as she seriously considers leaving the job after witnessing her first death. However, amidst all of this, Pernille starts to have an unsettling doubt in her mind, one that is equally dangerous and unbelievable. Pernille slowly starts to believe that the superstar nurse, Christina Aistrup Hansen, might be directly linked to the unusual deaths of many patients at the hospital. 

Why Does Pernille Suspect Christina Of The Deaths At The Hospital?

The very first hint of doubt, or suspicion, that Pernille has with regard to the hospital itself, and not Christina in particular, is after the death of a girl named Janni. After being admitted to the emergency ward, Janni had grown a bond with Pernille, who was in charge of her during the day shifts. Despite Janni only being at the hospital for a few days, such a bond is not unnatural, as patients do tend to form relationships of trust and friendship with nurses, and Pernille, too, liked looking after the girl. However, one night, when Pernille is also working the night shift, the alarms from Janni’s room go off, signifying that the girl is having cardiac problems. Although the team of doctors and nurses gives their best efforts, Janni cannot be helped, and the girl passes away. Almost everyone is shocked at how such a young girl can die from heart failure, and when Pernille goes through Janni’s room one last time, she finds a syringe in the dustbin. Taking a closer look, she realizes that the syringe had been charged with diazepam, which is really odd since Janni was not being given any dose of the medicine.

Pernille also grows suspicious about the fact that the system in place at the hospital does not require nurses to keep track of any medicine that they are taking out of the medicine room. This is a highly crucial requirement for most places since keeping no track means that anyone can remove any medicine or drug and put it to wrong use without any repercussions. Sometime after the death of Janni, Pernille finds that medicines inside the locked room are missing, and even another nurse casually talks about how some of the diazepam medicine that she had taken out is now missing. Everyone maintains a casual attitude towards all of this, and despite Pernille having doubts as to why such strange occurrences were taking place at a hospital, she still keeps the doubts to herself. Another bizarre and unexpected death follows a few days later, this time of an elderly man brought in with a urinary tract infection. By now, Pernille works only the day shifts, and she cares for the man, assuring his family that he will be fit by the next day. However, the man strangely passes away that night, when Christina had been on duty at the ward, and the reason for his death is also mysteriously heart failure. The man’s family is shocked by this sudden death, too, as he had never suffered from any heart ailment. They even ask the police to conduct an investigation, but no serious effort is put in, most probably since the man was already of an age when any medical accident could happen to him.

However, Pernille was now frustrated by the severe lack of seriousness around her, and she wanted to do something about these strange deaths. Christina was definitely the most glaring and obvious suspect for all this because of her peculiar habits and self-obsessed nature. Pernille started to notice how the nurse was almost very excited by the prospect of her having to save patients, and her reactions would often go to extremely dramatic extents. In one particular instance, Pernille and Christina were working together during a night shift when an elderly patient suddenly got sick.

As the two nurses rushed to the room, Christina jumped on top of the man’s body and started performing compressions on his chest. While this was definitely a good reaction, as she did manage to save the patient, the whole way in which Christina conducted the matter felt perverse and unnecessary to Pernille, looking almost like Christina was enjoying herself just like during sex while performing the compressions. Also added to this was Christina’s ridiculous habit of lying to her coworkers, which is not a great characteristic for a nurse in charge of patients in critical condition. In one instance, Christina tells her colleagues that she had just gotten into a dangerous accident while driving to the hospital, and although she and her daughter had survived unscathed, her car had been totally wrecked. By now aware of the woman’s habits, Pernille goes to check the hospital’s parking and sees Christina’s car completely intact and unscratched. On another occasion, Pernille also noticed that her colleague had been taking the medical files of patients to her house. Although Christina claims that it was only for medical research, Pernille found it highly unusual and suspicious.

How Does Pernille Prove Her Claims Against Christina?

The final piece of evidence that Pernille needs to convince herself of Christina’s devilish acts is the very record of deceased patients at the ward. She notices that among all the patients who had died while admitted to the ward in recent times, twenty-two of these deaths had occurred when Christina was in charge of them. Although the skilled nurse is probably given more cases to handle, twenty-two deaths for a single nurse alone is indeed a very high number. Pernille immediately tries to convince another colleague of hers, Katja, of her suspicions, and she also discusses the matter with Niels Lunden, the doctor with whom she had by now started a romantic relationship. Neither Katja nor Niels initially believed Pernille’s claims, but the woman remained determined to find more proof. She gets in touch with an old colleague of Christina from her previous department and finds out that the nurse could have been responsible for the deaths of forty patients each year alone. Finally, Niels does come out in support of Pernille when he, too, finds out that the recent deaths under Christina’s supervision were highly unusual and suspicious. However, calling out such a distinguished nurse as Christina is an immensely difficult task since she has the hospital’s support. Niels now tells Pernille that they would need to have solid proof first and that she would also have to catch Christina in the act before they could make any serious accusations.

In order to find this crucial evidence, Pernille works a night shift once again along with Christina, and soon the alarms from the patients’ wards start to go off. Pernille responds to the first patient and finds some medicine unusually stuck in his IV channel, and the patient soon dies from heart failure. Pernille stores this IV tube away and also photographs the entire medicine room to keep track of the drugs. Two more patients passed away the same night, too, in a similar fashion, and Pernille is now very sure that it was Christina who killed them with diazepam. But she still needs to catch the nurse in the act, and the final moment arrives when Christina is about to administer the fatal drug into the IV of a woman. Pernille does not confront her but simply calls out to her, making Christina stop and panic. The most probable reason for Christina administering this drug was to create an emergency with the patients and then rush into the limelight and save them. As was part of her regular pattern, Christina now rang the alarms for the woman patient even before the drug had any effect on her vitals. When the doctors rushed and examined the woman, her heart rate was still normal. While everyone else treated the case as an instance of false alarm, Pernille now had all the proof and evidence that she needed.

Is It Based On True Events?

“The Nurse” is actually based on very real events that took place in the area of Falster, Denmark. Christina Aistrup Hansen is a real woman who was reported to the police by her colleague Pernille Kurzmann Larsen sometime in March 2015. After a police investigation into the matter was held, Christina was found guilty of killing three patients and attempting to kill another one (the woman patient seen in the end) on the night before Pernille’s complaint. She was also suspected of having killed numerous other patients between 2012 and 2015 in the same manner by administering lethal doses of diazepam and morphine into the patient’s bloodstream. Christina had also killed Arne, the man seen at the beginning of “The Nurse,” in a similar manner, and it could be that Arne had been her very first victim.

‘The Nurse’ Ending Explained: What Happened To Christina & Pernille?

“The Nurse” ends with information regarding the real case and the characters involved, with the most important being that of Christina herself. The initial District Court that ruled on the matter found Christina guilty of three murders and an attempted fourth one and therefore sentenced her to life imprisonment. However, due to the medical complications involved in the case, it could never be proven with complete certainty that Christina had been the only and definite reason for the deaths. For this reason, Christina Aistrup Hansen’s life imprisonment sentence was appealed by her, and she was finally given a prison sentence of twelve years in the end.

The most possible reason behind Christina’s innumerable murders seems to be her self-obsession and drive towards being an important figure in the eyes of the other nurses and doctors. Christina always enjoyed the attention of her colleagues, and so she was seemingly creating moments of tension and emergency with regard to the patients by administering lethal doses of medicine to them. She would then wait for the heart-rate monitoring alarms to go off, rush into the emergency room, and save the patients from their plight. In a sense, it was almost like an adrenaline rush to Christina, as the nurse genuinely enjoyed the moments of tension and high risks, and almost like obtaining drugs in some unlawful manner, Christina had been creating situations of emergency only to gratify her desires for adventure and to be praised. But not all factors during such moments of cardiac emergency could be under the control of Christina or the doctors, and this was the reason the patients would die. However, the nurse did not seem to mind risking the lives of her patients in order to play her game of becoming their savior and gathering praise and attention.

Although Christina still denies the charges, claiming that she is innocent and wrongly framed, the woman continues to serve her prison sentence in Denmark. On the other side, Pernille Kurzmann Larsen continues to be the only nurse still working at the Nykobing Falster hospital since everyone else has shifted to some other workplace. Pernille’s romance with the doctor, Niels did turn out to be a success as well, and the woman now uses his surname of Lunden after their marriage.

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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