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The working titles for the film were Emergency Ward and A Case of Need. The Carey Treatment was based on A Case of Need, a novel written by Michael Crichton under the pseudonym Jeffery Hudson, the name used in the onscreen credits. Crichton received an "Edgar" Award from the Mystery Writers of America for A Case of Need, which was also chosen by them as the best novel for 1968.
According to a June 26, 1968 Variety article, A&M Records had acquired the film rights to the novel. By September 20, 1968, Variety noted that A&M had signed Wendell Mayes to write the screenplay for the film, but on March 20, 1971 Hollywood Reporter reported that Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank, Jr., a husband-and-wife team, would write the screenplay for M-G-M. No additional information about A&M Records' involvement is known.
According to Filmfacts, director Blake Edwards was so displeased with the final cuts M-G-M made to The Carey Treatment that he disowned the film and refused onscreen credit; however, his name did appear on the viewed print. In addition, screenwriters Ravetch and Frank, Jr. were so upset by the changes made to their script that they insisted that their onscreen credit read "James P. Bonner," a pseudonym the team had used on the 1969 film House of Cards. Screenwriter John D. F. Black also refused to have his credit onscreen. Although a March 20, 1971 and a December 6, 1971 Hollywood Reporter article stated that The Carey Treatment was the first film for producer William Belasco's St. Regis Productions, this company was not listed on screen or in reviews.
A modern source adds Stephen Manley, Sol Schwade, Dick Crockett and Ed Peck to the cast. The Carey Treatment marked the feature film debut for actress Skye Aubrey, daughter of M-G-M president James Aubrey and actress Phyllis Thaxter. Blake Edwards' daughter Jennifer also had a role in the film. As noted in reviews and Hollywood Reporter production charts, The Carey Treatment marked the last feature film for actress Elizabeth Allen (1929-2006), who continued her acting career for many years in television. The film was shot on location in Boston, MA.