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A Piece of My Mind
June 16, 2010

The “Right” to Fall

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2010;303(23):2333-2334. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.792

When I saw Carla walk into the clinic without her mother Marianne (not their real names), I knew it would be a long day. Carla is the daughter of an octogenarian patient who I had reluctantly discharged from the hospital late Friday afternoon with strict instructions for her to return to my clinic first thing Monday morning. When Marianne heard that I had agreed to release her, a rare smile came to her wrinkled face blooming with variegated bruises of green and yellow, blue and black hues. The senior medical resident nodded in concurrence, the intern slipped out of the room and sped to the nurses' station to print out the discharge summary, and the case manager discreetly reached into her pocket and pressed the speed dial of her cell phone for an ambulance to take the patient home. There was only one person in the room who disagreed with my plan. Defeated, Carla leaned back against the wall, arms crossed, shoulders slumped, eyes cast toward the linoleum floor.