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Minerva Anestesiologica 2012 January;78(1):63-8

Copyright © 2012 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Managing patients whose family members are physicians

Bramstedt K. A. 1, Popovich M. 2

1 California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco, CA, USA; 2 Medical Director, Surgical Intensive Care Unit, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH, USA


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The ethical complexities involving physicians who treat their own family members are well known and it is generally accepted that such practice should not occur. We present three anonymous cases in which patient family members who worked as physicians complicated the medical care of their hospitalized relatives. When a health care worker’s family member becomes a hospital patient, the situation can be emotionally charged due to the medical insight the multiple parties have, as well as the desire of relatives to be protective of their family members. Clinician-relatives need to allow the medical team to assume the role of caretaker when their family members are hospitalized. Teams may need to employ limit setting in order to ensure fair and consistent care for all patients on the ward, and to prevent escalation of emotionally charged situations.

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