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Sick doctors

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: (Published 05 November 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:1235

Workaholics harm families also

  1. S Hey

    EDITOR, - I am disappointed that Liam J Donaldson's editorial on sick doctors makes no mention of workaholic doctors and the peer pressure that results in doctors seeming to take pride in work-aholism.1 This “respectable addiction,” as it has been described, seems not to be recognised in Britain. Doctors who do not subscribe to such an ethos may often be criticised by other colleagues as being lazy, lacking in motivation, or unambitious, whereas they may be showing a healthier balance of concern for themselves and their families.

    As Donaldson states, doctors have a high mortality from suicide, self injury, poisoning, and cirrhosis. This may well be the visible tip of the iceberg. It would be interesting to see the profession have the courage to investigate the effect of doctors' working patterns on their families. The current political concern for the importance of family life is not widely put into practice by doctors with families.

    The editorial views the problem of sick doctors in terms of the relatively well defined threat to patients and perhaps the profession. The wider aspect of the damage to the health of the doctors, their families, and society as a whole is more intangible and insidious. Work may never be seriously enough affected for the problem …

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