Day 459

The General Medical Council says,

‘Wherever possible, you should avoid providing medical care to anyone with whom you have a close personal relationship’, in Good Medical Practice for doctors.

The standards of treatment or care may be compromised where doctors provide care to members of their family. A number of reasons are suggested for this:

  1. Emotional involvement can lead to a lack of objectivity in clinical decision-making.
  2. Assessing family members’ condition and providing treatment outside a practice setting may also mean that family members do not receive the same standard of care as other patients.
  3. People who receive care both from a doctor who is a family member and from a separate GP may not develop effective relationships with their own GPs or other doctors and their records are likely to be incomplete.
  4. Doctors’ family members are entitled to confidential medical care; family members may withhold information which is vital to a diagnosis or management of a condition. This may be a particular problem for children and young people – but could be relevant to the care of anyone with a close emotional relationship with a doctor.
  5. Doctors may not feel able to ask sensitive questions or conduct intimate examinations on relatives.
  6. Family members may feel unable to refuse treatment or seek alternative approaches to the management of a condition. Questioning a recommendation or seeking a second opinion may be seen, by either party, as demonstrating a lack of trust.

Everytime I think back to the sequence of events that led up to Saagar’s death, I feel stupid. How could I have not known? I know for sure that many other parents feel the same. As parents we have complete lack of objectivity. I was so used to Saagar being fiercely independent and intelligent that it wasn’t anywhere in my consciousness as a possibility.

What would have made it come into my awareness? Someone I trusted would have to sit me down in a quiet room, look into my eyes and tell me this: “Bipolar Disorder is associated with very high mortality. It is a real possibility that your son may end his life,” at least 10 times. Even then, I am not sure I would get it ….




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