Archive for December 2nd, 2008

The Conflict of Taking Care of A Loved One….

December 2, 2008

Obejectivity is important as a physician taking care of patients. But the personal side of it is as important as patients seek our help to feel comfort that their illness is not all that bad after all…  The conflict comes when as physicians, we have to deal with an illness in the family.  Almost always by chance, we commit a blunder in our decision which creates the conflict… a situation we all want to avoid.

The recent article published in the Annals of Internal Medicine succinctly targetted the issue of the conflict that a physician in the family and the sick loved one have to expect with medical care:


Conventional wisdom and professional ethics generally dictate that physicians should avoid doctoring family members because of potential conflicts of interest.
Nevertheless, cross-sectional surveys find that the practice is commonplace. Physicians have unique opportunities to influence their family member’s care because they possess knowledge and status within the health care system; however, when physicians participate in the care of family members, they must not lose objectivity and confuse their personal and professional roles.

Because health care systems are complicated, medical information is difficult to understand, and medical errors are common, it can be a great relief for families to have someone “on the inside” who is accessible and trustworthy. Yet, the benefits of becoming involved in a loved one’s care are accompanied by risks, especially when a physician takes action that a nonphysician would be incapable of performing. Except for convenience, most if not all of the benefits of getting involved can be realized by physician–family members acting as a family member or an advocate rather than as a physician.

Rules about what is or what is not appropriate for physician–family members are important but insufficient to guide physicians in every circumstance. Physician–family members can ask themselves, “What could I do in this situation if I did not have a medical degree?” and consider avoiding acts that require a medical license.


The best role that a physician family member can do is support.  And be there in times of need.  And the thought that other family members know that there is a doctor in the family that knows better than they do….is comforting enough…. 

The conflict though begins whan the question of … where do personal reasoining ends when objectivity is required….

Life is But a Full of Challenges…and for us physicians, the situation can be one..