Little guidance is available to ailing surgeons confronting the difficult issue of how to preserve optimal outcomes for themselves and their patients. At what point does it become imprudent or frankly unsafe to treat patients? Which infectious diseases might be passed from one to the other? What about the physical challenges of operating? How much should the patient be told? Should the surgeon make such decisions independently? If not, who should? What are the legal considerations? Reasonable responses to all of these questions likely differ with acute (eg, injury to the acromioclavicular joint) vs chronic illness. Pregnant women must surely ponder many of the same issues. And the answers may be different for a surgeon performing invasive procedures than for other physicians, particularly those with only minimal patient contact.
Friedman AL. The Human Side of the Surgeon—Invited Critique. Arch Surg. 2008;143(4):419. doi:10.1001/archsurg.143.4.419