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:
- Emotional involvement can lead to a lack of objectivity in clinical decision-making.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Doctors may not feel able to ask sensitive questions or conduct intimate examinations on relatives.
- 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 ….