What do you do when your loved one is ill? The line between physician and family member

Erik Fromme, Neil J. Farber, Stewart F. Babbott, Mary E. Pickett, Brent W. Beasley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    18 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    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.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)825-829
    Number of pages5
    JournalAnnals of Internal Medicine
    Volume149
    Issue number11
    StatePublished - Dec 2 2008

    Fingerprint

    Physicians
    Professional Ethics
    Delivery of Health Care
    Professional Role
    Medical Errors
    Conflict of Interest
    Licensure
    Cross-Sectional Studies

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Internal Medicine

    Cite this

    Fromme, E., Farber, N. J., Babbott, S. F., Pickett, M. E., & Beasley, B. W. (2008). What do you do when your loved one is ill? The line between physician and family member. Annals of Internal Medicine, 149(11), 825-829.

    What do you do when your loved one is ill? The line between physician and family member. / Fromme, Erik; Farber, Neil J.; Babbott, Stewart F.; Pickett, Mary E.; Beasley, Brent W.

    In: Annals of Internal Medicine, Vol. 149, No. 11, 02.12.2008, p. 825-829.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Fromme, E, Farber, NJ, Babbott, SF, Pickett, ME & Beasley, BW 2008, 'What do you do when your loved one is ill? The line between physician and family member', Annals of Internal Medicine, vol. 149, no. 11, pp. 825-829.
    Fromme E, Farber NJ, Babbott SF, Pickett ME, Beasley BW. What do you do when your loved one is ill? The line between physician and family member. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2008 Dec 2;149(11):825-829.
    Fromme, Erik ; Farber, Neil J. ; Babbott, Stewart F. ; Pickett, Mary E. ; Beasley, Brent W. / What do you do when your loved one is ill? The line between physician and family member. In: Annals of Internal Medicine. 2008 ; Vol. 149, No. 11. pp. 825-829.
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