As a new business owner, I’m finding out that some of the most loyal patients I have are my family and close relatives. As I start working on their complex oral health issues, I find myself dwelling on the boundaries of ethics.
I have been under the impression that, as a health care provider, it is legally acceptable to work on family and friends. However, it’s not the most ethical decision, as the relationship that you have with them personally may influence your decision-making as a provider.
I’m beginning to realize this as I get deeper and deeper into treatment with them. I’m also finding out that their reactions to my treatment and instructions are different than they were when their provider was a “stranger.”
I’m the youngest professional in my family so far. I feel like my confidence is affected when I stand above a relative who has known me since I was born, and I feel restricted in what I can and cannot tell them. It may also be a cultural issue, as I was raised to be advised by the elder relatives and not vice-versa. This makes me wonder if I can perform and guide them in treatment as well as I can a patient with whom I don’t have that connection. This is becoming more and more of an internal issue for me and it would be interesting to know if this is something other providers have experienced. Have you experienced this, or is this just a byproduct of being a new provider in the family?
Mona Goodarzi, DDS