For Those Studying Medicine… (2)

Sir William Osler : Canadian-born and regarded as the most influential physician in history

“When a doctor treats himself, he has a fool for a patient”

Sir William Osler (1849-1919)


Came across this statement by a doctor writing about her personal experiences, and its worth remembering for those who are studying medicine.  They will teach you in medical schools not to treat your own relatives, but not many will also say flatly that doctors should not treat themselves.

The reasons are manifold : professional objectivity is compromised, proper history and physical examination is difficult( try looking into your ear canals!), diagnostic reasoning may be faulty and emotional feelings like denial may come into play.

Emergency treatment and minor problems aside, it is best to consult a professional colleague. Doctors ask patients  to seek medical care from doctors, so doctors are no different. Practise what you preach!

2 responses

  1. Osler is my hero. I love this one of his. (paraphrased) “Seeing patients without reading books is like going to sea without a compass, but reading books without seeing patients is like not going to sea at all.”

    Come visit. I might be the only physician bluegrass fiction writer on wordpress.

    Dr. Tom Bibey

  2. Does that mean its illegal for a doc to treat his relatives?

    Doctor2008 says: No, most countries do not make it illegal but just unethical. Its difficult to make it law when there may be extenuating circumstances when a doctor needs to treat close ones, like in an emergency or when there are no docs nearby.

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