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A Piece of My Mind
November 28, 2012

Virtual Grief

Author Affiliations

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

Author Affiliation: Palliative Medicine Fellowship Program, University of Washington, Seattle (djwu@comcast.net).

JAMA. 2012;308(20):2095-2096. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.14169

It is early morning. I am clicking through dozens of view alerts on our clinic electronic medical record (EMR), trying to clean up before the start of another day's pileup. So far, the alerts have been easy: a request for insoles here, a routine prescription refill there, a set of normal labs yonder. Click, click, click. Like a caffeine-injected machine humming along, I dispense with one rote task after another.

His name pops up, and an image of the young man flashes in my mind's eye. “Tommy” is a healthy young man, if a bit anxious. I click the mouse, thinking: This should be quick. There it is, a note from a social worker: