Doctors are responsible for their own physical health, including lifestyle management, as well as proactively seeking treatment and establishing a continuing therapeutic relationship with their own GP. Regular self-diagnosis, treatment and prescribing are discouraged both for doctors and their families.
“Doctors are terrible patients and unless we are experienced at treating doctors, the doctors they see often collude in providing poor health care to their colleagues with limited explanations, shortcuts in investigation, avoidance of awkward questions and all the pitfalls associated with being a ‘special patient’,” says psychiatrist Dr Michael Diamond, who treats many doctors in his Sydney practice.
Dr Stephen Jelbart, a Melbourne GP and Medical Director of Medical Services Australia, a practice which treats a number of health professionals as patients, says doctors should follow the advice they give to their own patients.
“There is a general lack of self-care among the people we see, with very poor lifestyle management. They are often very unfit, they tend to be overweight, they find it hard to fit in exercise, and they are often drinking too much. They need to take a really proactive approach to these issues,” he says.