Did the AMA Steal Idea for Ungrateful Patient Resolution from Seinfeld?
The American Medical Association’s recent resolution calls for adding a special code to identify “non-compliant patients” because, as Resolution 710 reads, “the stress of dealing with ungrateful patients is adding to the stress of physicians leading to decreased physician satisfaction.” The resolution, introduced by the Michigan Delegation on May 6, 2009, appears to be inspired by the Seinfeld episode entitled “The Package,” which first aired on October 17, 1996.
Here is the truncated script of the Seinfeld episode. Note the phone call to Elaine from the American Medical Association in the middle of the night.
[Elaine at the doctor’s]
ATTENDANT: The doctor will be with you in a moment.
(Elaine looking at her chart)
DOCTOR: Elaine. You shouldn’t be reading that. So tell me about this rash of yours.
ELAINE: Well it’s, it’s… You know, I noticed that somebody wrote in my chart that I was difficult in January of ‘92 and I have to tell you that I remember that appointment exactly. You see, this nurse asked me to put a gown on but it was a mole on my shoulder and I specifically wore a tank top so I wouldn’t have to put a gown on. You know they’re made of paper.
DOCTOR: Well that was a long time ago. How about if I just erase it. Now, about that rash…
ELAINE: But it was in pen. You fake erased.
DOCTOR: All right, Miss Benes. This doesn’t look to serious. You’ll be fine.
ELAINE: What are you writing? Doctor?
[Elaine walks in to Jerry’s apartment]
ELAINE: You are not going to believe what happened to me at the doctor’s office today!
JERRY: Not the gown again.
ELAINE: No, no. I was looking at my chart and it said I was difficult. Why would they write that?
JERRY: They have gotten to know you.
(Kramer leaves with Jerry’s stereo)
ELAINE: Then the doctor writes more stuff down and doesn’t even look at my rash.
GEORGE: Why don’t you find a doctor that doesn’t know you’re difficult?
ELAINE: Oh, come on. I’m not difficult. I’m easy.
JERRY: Why because you dress casual and sleep with a lot of guys.
ELAINE: Listen to me you little shi……..
[Elaine at another doctor’s office]
DOCTOR: Well Elaine, you really didn’t have to put on the gown.
ELAINE: Oh it’s my pleasure. I love these. In fact, I got one at home. It’s perfect when you just want to throw something on.
(Nurse hands the doctor her chart)
DOCTOR: All rightly. Let me just review your history before we begin.
ELAINE: Where did you get my chart?
DOCTOR: From your last doctor. It’s a standard procedure.
ELAINE: You know I can tell you my whole history. Let’s just…
DOCTOR: Okay. Let’s take a look. Well that doesn’t look to serious. You’ll be fine.
ELAINE: Please, please. It’s really, really itchy.
(Doctor writes more in her chart)
[George and Elaine in taxi]
ELAINE: …and then he starts writing on my chart.
GEORGE: Well, why don’t you get a hold of it and change what you don’t like?
ELAINE: You can’t change your chart. It’s your chart.
GEORGE: I am in and out of my personnel file at work all the time.
ELAINE: You are?!
GEORGE: Hey. I’ve kept the same job for more than two years. It’s not luck. Elaine. Have you ever sent a racy photograph of yourself to anyone?
ELAINE: Yeah. I sent one to everyone I know. Remember my Christmas card?
GEORGE: Oh yeah. The nipple. But besides that. How did you feel about Kramer’s work?
ELAINE: Actually I thought he was very professional.
GEORGE: So it was a good experience.
ELAINE: Oh yeah. In fact I like the picture so much I cropped out the nipple and I’m using it as my health club ID.
ELAINE: Yeah, it is nice actually.
[Elaine at another doctor’s office]
ELAINE: I need to see Dr. Burke right away. This rash is spreading.
ATTENDANT: He can’t see you, Miss Benes He’s busy.
ELAINE: Oh, come on. Have some compassion. Okay well I hope it’s contagious.
[Elaine rubs the attendant’s phone on her neck. Soon after Elaine finds her chart and runs to the elevator]
ELAINE: Come on. Move! [Elevator doors re-open revealing Dr. Burke and two orderlies] Oh, hi, Dr. Burke. I didn’t know if uh…
DR. BURKE: The chart, Miss Benes.
(The doctor writes more in the chart)
ELAINE: Oh please, no more!
[At Jerry’s apartment]
(Elaine still on phone)
ELAINE: What?! He doesn’t have one appointment this whole month?! Oh come on. I am dying here, man. Hello, hello.
JERRY: Still no luck?
(Kramer leaves with a fan)
ELAINE: Jerry, I am at “Dr. Zimmerman.” I am at the end of the alphabet!
JERRY: There’s no “Zorn” or “Zoutraph.”
ELAINE: They’re on vacation. Every doctor in this city seems to know who I am.
JERRY: Hey, what about Dr. Resnick? My Uncle Leo is going to see him tomorrow.
ELAINE: Dr. Resnick? He’s not listed.
JERRY: He’s not that good.
[Elaine sleeping in bed]
MAN: Is this Elaine Marie Benes?
ELAINE: Yes. Who it this?
MAN: We are with the American Medical Association. Can you confirm the correct spelling of your last name? Is it B-e-n-e-s?
ELAINE: Yeah. What is this all about?
ELAINE: Hello, hello?
ELAINE: Oh uh uh…
GUY: Get off the line. We’re trying to make another call.
[Uncle Leo and Elaine at Dr. Resnick’s office]
UNCLE LEO: Elaine! Hello! What are you doing here?
ELAINE: Leo, has the doctor been in yet?
UNCLE LEO: No. I am going to ask him about my eyebrows.
ELAINE: Okay, listen, Leo. You’re hairless, you’re scared. When the doctor comes in, let me do the talking. Okay?
[Dr. Resnick walks in]
DR. RESNICK: Leo, I heard you had a little mishap.
UNCLE LEO: It was a fireball.
ELAINE: I should have never left him alone.
DR. RESNICK: And who are you?
ELAINE: I am his nurse… Paloma.
UNCLE LEO: You’re not my nurse.
ELAINE: He has good days and bad.
DR. RESNICK: What seems to be the problem?
UNCLE LEO: Are my eyebrows going to grow back?
ELAINE: And he’s had a bit of a rash.
DR. RESNICK: Really?
DR. RESNICK: Well, there’s been a bit of that going around lately. Will you excuse me Paloma? I just need to get some ointment.
ELAINE: I don’t like this, it is too easy.
UNCLE LEO: Elaine…
ELAINE: Shut up! I think he’s on to us.
UNCLE LEO: Elaine, what about my eyebrows?
ELAINE: Shhhhhh. Here.
(Elaine draws fake eyebrows on him)
[Uncle Leo at Dr. Resnick’s office]
DR. RESNICK: I got your ointment. Where’s your nurse?
UNCLE LEO: She left.
DR. RESNICK: No need to get angry. Calm down.
UNCLE LEO: I am calm.
DR. RESNICK: Leo, I don’t care for your demeanor.
UNCLE LEO: Demeanor?
DR. RESNICK: Now you’re just being difficult.
UNCLE LEO: What are you writing?
[Kramer and Elaine at doctor’s office]
ELAINE: Get in there. Get chart. Get out. You got it?
KRAMER: Yeah, let me borrow your scarf.
KRAMER: Yeah. All right, one chart coming up!
KRAMER: “Bennett,” right?
ELAINE: Benes. My last name is Benes, you jackass. Yeah.
[Kramer at doctor’s office]
KRAMER: I like what you’ve done with that.
ATTENDANT: May I help you?
KRAMER: Yes, yes. I am Dr. Van Nostrand from the clinic. I need Elaine Benes’ chart. She’s a patient of mine and she’s not going to make it. It’s, uh, very bad. Very messy.
ATTENDANT: I see. And what clinic is that again?
KRAMER: That’s correct.
ATTENDANT: Excuse me?
KRAMER: From [mumbles] the Hoffer-Mandale Clinic in Belgium.
KRAMER: The Netherlands?
[Kramer exits building]
ELAINE: Where’s my chart? Did you get it?
ELAINE: What? What happened?
KRAMER: I don’t know. But now they got a chart on me.