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What happens when doctors don't practice what they preach?

Like the saying, “the person who represents himself in court has a fool for a client,” physicians are not immune from the type of foolishness that comes with avoiding their own advice. According a recent report, doctors are notorious for being the worst patients.  Specifically, doctors are known for partaking in the very unhealthy habits that they advise patients not to indulge in.

For example, there are physicians who smoke despite knowing that lung cancer is directly attributable to this habit; physicians who frequently eat fast food despite the health warnings and levels of obesity, and doctors who continue to use tanning salons in light of the skin cancer risks that come with it.

According to the report, it appears that doctors adopt the same thinking that supports many dangerous habits: “it won’t happen to me.” And when doctors do become ill, there is an undercover culture of self-medicating that can lead to inaccurate advice to patients. For instance, if a doctor is struggling with high cholesterol, he or she may be less likely to counsel a patient on the best ways to address the problem. The same could be said about doctors who abuse painkillers or smoke cigarettes.

Indeed, doctors may be reluctant to discuss their issues out of fear of reprisal. Moreover, they may believe that it could undermine their reputation and end their careers. Nevertheless, for the sake of patient safety, it is important that doctors practice what they preach. One way that doctors and other health care professionals are working towards this is by incorporating The Patient Promise.

Our next post will highlight this and how it may help. 

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