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Can doctors advise beyond the purely professional?

Himmatrao Saluba Bawaskar

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2019.035


A 25-year-old woman, six-months pregnant, came to me in great distress. She said she had been happily married for five years. Unexpectedly, a minor accidental injury to her husband had revealed that he had been suffering from a brain tumour since 2012. He had been operated on at the time but the tumour had subsequently metastasised and had required further surgery. His condition had not been revealed to the wife either at the time of the marriage or later. The husband and his family were unapologetic about the non-disclosure. When the wife confronted her husband’s regular attending neurosurgeon, asking why he had not counselled the patient against marriage, he had argued that it was not his responsibility to do so. The issue this case raises is: Is it not the duty of a responsible treating doctor towards a patient with a life-threatening condition and his parents, to counsel them regarding marriage? A doctor occupies the position of a respected adviser and his counsel would surely be considered seriously.

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