Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Should your Doctor be your Friend?

Last Friday, October 14th, I was asked to be a guest on the Dr. Drew show to address the important issue of the doctor-patient relationship. Our discussion centered on the friendship between Dr. Conrad Murray and Michael Jackson and the inappropriate crossing of boundaries.

First and foremost, the doctor-patient relationship is special, centered on trust, caring, and helping. But it is not a friendship – friendships are two way streets. The therapeutic alliance in the doctor-patient relationship is a one-way street – the doctor’s role is to help the patient. 

Another issue we discussed was “doctor shopping." When a person who has a diagnosis of chemical dependency gets prescriptions from various doctors in order to misuse medications, typically pain meds or anti-anxiety meds (benzodiazepines), it's called "doctor shopping." When a physician is aware of this behavior or even suspects "doctor shopping," it's the doctor's duty to take action and stop filling prescriptions rather than enable such destructive behavior.

If you have a friend or family member misusing medication in this way, don’t sit by quietly. Taking appropriate action could save a life. Encourage your loved one to seek appropriate treatment. On the Healthy Minds Public Television series, we have two episodes which focus on chemical dependency, episodes #111 and #112 which can be seen at www.wliw.org/healthyminds. 

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