The Apartment: Where’s Her Medical Record?


I watched the movie, The Apartment, recently and enjoyed it a lot. There’s a scene where Jack Lemmon’s neighbor, a doctor, saves a woman, Shirley Maclaine, after she overdoses on sleeping pills in Lemmon’s apartment (I apologize for the spoiler).

What I thought was funny and interesting is the way the doctor and Lemmon regarded billing and charting the care the doctor gave to Maclaine’s character. The doctor wanted to report the incident but Lemmon didn’t want him to, since it might put Lemmon, “in hot water with my boss.”

The doctor said, “Well, it’s just for regulation purposes, you know.”

Wow, how some things have changed and how some things have not changed!  In 1959, when the story took place, regulation was indeed in place for medical care, especially in places like New York City, where the story took place. Regulation has grown to be extremely influential in how medical care is given today. Huge.

There were no smart phones, tablets or PCs back then and the neighbor doctor couldn’t look up the patient’s medical record. He did the right thing by helping the woman, and he ultimately said that he did so as he was trying to do the “neighborly friendly thing to do.” That’s great, but you wonder in real life how these things play out.

The doctor gave the patient an injection to counteract the overdose (Narcan?), and it was all done very matter-of-factly in the apartment. This is still done today, without checking any records of the patient. The priority is to act quickly in events like these.

I wonder how it would play out if an unconscious patient has their medical record (or access to it) on their person in a time of a crisis like this.

Does the provider look it up first?  Does the provider act first?

In the movie, none of this came up of course, as these issues weren’t a reality in medical care in 1959. But today this may be a very different story. And I find it a fascinating one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

× two = 16