Can Doctors Treat Their Family Members?

In general, doctors should not treat themselves or their own family members. It is believed that professional objectivity can be compromised when an immediate family member or doctor is the patient; the doctor's personal feelings can unduly influence his professional medical judgment, interfering with the care provided. Patients may also feel uncomfortable disclosing sensitive information or undergoing an intimate examination when the doctor is an immediate family member. This is especially true when the patient is a minor child. However, it would not always be inappropriate to engage in self-treatment or treatment of immediate family members.

Concerns about patient autonomy and informed consent are also relevant when doctors try to treat members of their immediate family. In some cases, doctors have anticipated the demands of their families and have been surprised to find that other doctors welcomed them and even looked forward to their participation. Due to strong family history of coronary artery disease and abnormal Lp (a), some doctors have taken statins on their own with the knowledge of their doctor, as has their wife, who has a metabolic syndrome even though she is thin. Physicians are not supposed to treat family members, as specified in the AMA Code of Medical Ethics, but the trials reveal a more nuanced reality.

Internally, physicians have an identity and responsibilities that are balanced between their family and professional roles. Externally, the different family expectations of the physician-family member role compete with the expectations of other physicians and the health care system. In emergency settings or isolated settings where no other qualified doctor is available, doctors should not hesitate to treat themselves or their family members until another doctor is available. Personal responsibility to the family is deeply rooted, and a person's behavior is affected by their identity and family relationships.

Norma Dickhaus
Norma Dickhaus

Lifelong food evangelist. Amateur food maven. Award-winning explorer. Extreme internet buff. Certified twitter scholar.

Leave Message

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *