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A Piece of My Mind
November 19, 2003

Conflict of Interest

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2003;290(19):2521-2522. doi:10.1001/jama.290.19.2521

At least once a week, I take the insider's shortcut around the OR to get from one end of the medical center to the other. Weaving my way past carts stacked high with supplies and stretchers ready to receive a still-sleepy occupant, I pass the entrance to the psychiatric unit, where my daughter has been a patient more times than I can count.

On other days, I find myself on one of the medical floors where my girl has also been a "frequent flier." When that happens, I, who have always prided myself on assimilating well in hospitals and nursing homes, am on guard. Will one of the nurses or residents see my name tag and connect me with my mentally ill child, who has been given a number of not-so-flattering labels: "hard to treat," "difficult and uncooperative," and, on one occasion, "spoiled brat"? I always wonder who, besides me, has heard a nurse or social worker or doctor describe her that way.