Friday, June 10, 2011

Great dialogue: The Hospital (1971)

The Hospital (1971), written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Arthur Miller.


We've got a little thing over here,
Doctor. The girl over there is the
daughter of the patient in Eight-O-
Six. He is at the moment comatose
and requires intravenous feeding and
The thing is, the daughter wants to
take the father out of the hospital
and back to Mexico where they live.
The patient's name is Drummond. He's
apparently a Methodist missionary,
and he and his daughter run some
kind of religious mission among the
Apache Indians. The daughter claims
to be a licensed nurse, so she can
give the necessary I.V. treatment. I
certainly don't think he should be
let out of this hospital. The
Attending -- he's the guy in gray
over there -- concurs.

All right, wait a minute. Let me
have all that again.

As a matter of fact, Doctor, this is
Dr. Biegelman's case.

Never mind the professional ethics,
what happened?

I don't know why I'm covering for
that sonofabitch in Farkis Pavilion
The patient, a man of fifty-six, was
admitted to the hospital ten days
ago for a check-up, in good health,
no visible distress. We did the
mandatory work-up on him. Blood
cultures, stool, L.E. preps, chest,
E.K.G., all negative. But there was
apparently some evidence of protein
in his urine. I don't know how that
sonofabitch in Farkis Pavilion ever
found out about it. Maybe he had
some kind of deal with one of the
girls in the lab. Anyway, he turned
up the next day, conned the patient
into signing an authorization for a

What sonofabitch in Farkis Pavilion?

Some post-grad fellow named Ives.
Elroy Ives. I never met him. He's on
one of the immunology research

Are you trying to tell me some post-
grad fellow came up here and did a
biopsy on the patient?

Yes, sir. He conned Biegelman with
that old story about...

...protein in the urine?

Yes, sir.

And he biopsied the man?

And he nicked a vessel, and at two
o'clock in the morning, they woke up
Biegelman because the nurse found
the patient in shock. Biegelman called
the kidney people for a consult right
away. What was there to see? The man
was sour and bleeding. We spoke to
this fellow Sutcliffe, and he referred
us to a surgeon named Welbeck...

Welbeck?! That barber!
You ain't heard nothing yet. So we
finally got Welbeck around four in
the morning. He said, go ahead. So
they laid on the surgery for eight.
Welbeck turns up, half-stoned, orders
an I.V.P., clears him for allergies...

...without actually testing.


And the patient went into shock...

...and tubular necrosis. They lopped
out the bleeding kidney, ran him
back to the room, and we sat around
waiting for three days to see how
obstructed he was. Fever began spiking
like hell, euremia, vomiting, so we
arranged hemodialysis. He's putting
out good water now. But some nurse
goofed on his last treatment. A leak
in the tube, something. His blood
pressure plunged. They ran him right
up to I.C.U., checked out vital signs,
all normal except he's comatose.
That was two days ago.
In short, a man came into this
hospital in perfectly good health,
and, in the space of one week, we
chopped out one kidney, damaged the
other, reduced him to coma and damn
near killed him.

Yes, sir.

A great sad serenity has settled over Bock.

You know, Brubaker, last night I sat
in my hotel room, reviewing the
shambles of my life and contemplating
suicide. Then I said "No, Bock, don't
do it. You're a doctor, a healer.
You're the Chief of Medicine at one
of the great hospitals of the world.
You're a necessary person. Your life
is meaningful." Then I came in this
morning and find out one of my doctors
was killed by a couple of nurses who
mistook him for a patient because he
screwed a technician from the
nephrology lab...
Hematology, sir.

And now you come to me with this
gothic horror story in which the
entire machinery of modern medicine
has apparently conspired to destroy
one lousy patient. How am I to sustain
my feeling of meaningfulness in the
face of this? You know, Brubaker, if
there was an oven around, I'd stick
my head in it. What was the name of
that sonofabitch from Farkis Pavilion

Ives, sir. Elroy Ives. Somebody ought
to ream his ass.

I'm going to ream his ass. And I'm
going to break that barber Welbeck's
back. I'm going to defrock those two
cannibals. They won't practice in my
hospital, I'll tell you that!

BRUBAKER What'll I tell the girl, sir? She
says we have no legal right to stop
her from taking her father out. She's
willing to sign an A.O.R. form.

Let him go. Before we kill him.

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