When should the doctor call in sick?
Cameron Jefferies (left) and Tracey Bailey, researchers with the University of Alberta's Health Law Institute. (Photo: John Ulan)
(Medical Xpress) -- When should your doctor phone in sick? The question may seem unusual, but its an issue that University of Alberta researchers say needs greater regulation to ensure patient safety and provide better protection for physicians as patients.
Tracey Bailey and Cameron Jefferies of the U of As Health Law Institute are co-authors of a report noting that many medical regulatory bodies across Canada lack standards of practice for self-reporting of medical issues that may affect physicians and their practice, or for reporting of such individuals by their own treating physicians or by colleagues. Noting that doctors who ignore their own medical issues risk inadvertently breaching a medical ethic that says first do no harm, the report contains a model for implementation that, if adopted, will address the question of patient safety and alleviate concerns doctors may have about getting treatmentmeasures the researchers believe will help build public trust in the profession and in physicians in general, and help physicians seek out services that will be of assistance to them.
Weve made a number of recommendations, but weve also said you cant pick and choose, said Bailey, director of the institute. If you adopt this package, it will offer better protection for physician-patients and hopefully will encourage physicians to utilize services and reduce the barriers that they face in doing so, as well as ensure greater protection of the public.
Physician, standardize thyself
Bailey says that many models for self-reporting, or for the reporting of colleagues, are relatively non-existent or appear to be driven by incidents. She says a lack of guidance and over-focused attention on issues such as addictions or psychiatric conditions do little to protect doctors and the patients in their care. Yet, any information that the licensing body gathers must ensure protection of the doctors human rights and the duty of confidentiality owed to them as patients. She says that regulatory bodies, as institutions mandated to protect the public, need to implement standardized, mandatory self-reporting of medical conditions that may negatively affect their practice. Noting that Alberta has done much to address many of these issues and is ahead of many other jurisdictions in this area, she says there is some work needed to fine-tune the framework in this province to better address the shared goals of the public and others.
Physicians not only need guidance (in terms of reporting), but there should also be a duty to do that in certain instances given the legal, ethical and professional duties that they owe to their patients and others, Bailey said. Weve looked at regulatory frameworks across Canada and the globe, and weve discussed licensure questions and reporting thresholds. In other words, when should a physician have to pick up the phone, so to speak, to his or her college and say, Im reporting myself, my colleague, a physician-patient, et cetera.
Maintaining the Hippocratic oath
Bailey says the potential for doctors with health concerns to do harm to their patients is great. Yet, she says the definition of medical practitioner extends beyond the clinician to researchers, educators and administrators. From misreading reports to making decisions that translate into poor policies or bad practices in a hospital setting, the risks are not contained to direct negative effects on patient care. Physicians in other roles can have a harmful impact in other direct or indirect ways, such as on participants in research trials, or on the development of key policies and procedures. In addition to affecting the delivery of services, another unintended but negative consequence may be on public confidence in the profession or health-care system. A doctor holds great power, Bailey says, but with that power comes duties and responsibilities to ensure the health of the public is not compromised because of neglected health issues that may negatively affect their ability to meet those responsibilities.
Its a safety-sensitive profession. Youve got huge power, and the ability to help people and heal people in many instances, she said. Youre also in a position to do great harm.
Education and change of perspective: The physicians Rx
There is a certain measure of vulnerability that doctors feel as physician-patients, says Bailey. They may be reluctant to seek help if there are stigmas attached to seeking certain services. Some may be unwilling and resistant to yield their position of healer or helper to one of patient. She says there is also a misguided belief that the regulatory body will necessarily censure or penalize them for self-reporting a medical issue. These are just some of the barriers that physicians face. Yet, she says, sanctioning is not the goal of the college. She says the key is education, not only about resources available through physician-health programs and elsewhere, but also about the process of self-reporting.
We need to let physicians know what the expectations are and that this isnt discretionary, she said. If one of the [reporting] thresholds is met, you actually have to take positive steps, just like you have to take positive steps if youve got a situation where youre concerned about child abuse or the spread of an infectious disease.
Were limiting it to what is reasonablereasonable steps that must be taken in certain situations to prevent harm.
Provided by University of Alberta
- Study shows racial differences in doctors' unspoken language Jan 18, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Use of patient centered medical home features not related to patients' experience of care Jun 08, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- To tweet, or not to tweet: Physicians misusing the internet Apr 12, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Women and minorities face barriers to clinical trials Jun 01, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- When doctors own or lease MRI, back scans and surgery more likely Apr 26, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
Bed sharing with parents is linked to a fivefold increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), even when the parents are non-smokers and the mother has not been drinking alcohol and does not use illegal drugs, according ...
Health 10 hours ago | 1.3 / 5 (3) | 0
Doctors tell people with a heart-zapping device in their chests to give up intense sports like basketball and soccer in favor of golf or bowling. But lots of patients ignore that advice—and now new research is challenging ...
Health 10 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Little is known about the effect of physical education (PE) on child weight, but a new study from Cornell University finds that increasing the amount of time that elementary schoolchildren spent in gym class reduces the probability ...
Health 12 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Living near a major roadway during the prenatal period is associated with an increased risk of respiratory infection developing in children by the age of 3, according to a new study from researchers in Boston.
Health 14 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
People who are consistently exposed to both wood smoke and tobacco smoke are at a greater risk for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and for experiencing more frequent and severe symptoms of the disease, ...
Health 14 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Johns Hopkins researchers say they have discovered specific chemical alterations in two genes that, when present during pregnancy, reliably predict whether a woman will develop postpartum depression.
56 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Children who have suffered maltreatment are 36% more likely to be obese in adulthood compared to non-maltreated children, according to a new study by King's College London. The authors estimate that the prevention or effective ...
56 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(AP)—The decade-old law that transformed the battle against HIV and AIDS in developing countries is at a crossroads. The dream of future generations freed from the epidemic is running up against an era ...
39 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—A research team, led by Jeremy Barr, a biology post-doctoral fellow, unveils a new immune system that protects humans and animals from infection.
10 hours ago | 4.6 / 5 (13) | 4 |
New research suggests that a compound abundant in the Mediterranean diet takes away cancer cells' "superpower" to escape death. By altering a very specific step in gene regulation, this compound essentially re-educates cancer ...
13 hours ago | 4.8 / 5 (12) | 2 |
Early-life exposure to traffic-related air pollution was significantly associated with higher hyperactivity scores at age 7, according to new research from the University of Cincinnati (UC) and Cincinnati Children's Hospital ...
4 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |