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A Piece of My Mind
November 23/30, 2005

Malignant Neglect

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2005;294(20):2546-2548. doi:10.1001/jama.294.20.2546

What brought Mrs Waite (not her real name) to our emergency department was the intervention of her husband of 11 years. Frail, cachectic, unable to walk, Mrs Waite glanced lovingly at her husband from her hospital bed and said, “I didn’t want to come here.” In a low, husky voice she continued, “He picked me up and drove me here, against my wishes.” Apparently, she deemed the 30-pound weight loss, sustained over the past two years, relatively inconsequential. The longstanding vaginal discharge, the odor of which was still redolent from the nurses station down the hall, had become for her a tolerable inconvenience. None of these signs of a significant medical problem were cause for Mrs Waite to seek our help. Fortunately, her husband had finally experienced enough and brought her to our emergency department.

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