Maintaining patient privacy is a fundamental responsibility for physicians. However, physicians often share their lives with partners or spouses. A 2018 survey of 15 069 physicians found that 85% were currently married or living with a partner,1 and when physicians come home from work, their partners might reasonably ask about their day. Physicians are supposed to keep patient information private in almost all circumstances, but are these realistic expectations for physicians and their partners? Might this expectation preclude potential benefits of these conversations?
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..talking with their partners in generalities about patient encounters may be one way for physicians to cope with the stressors inherent to the practice of medicine...
..Given their intimate ties to physicians, partners might be among the best-positioned individuals to provide support for physicians...
..Some partners may bring useful outside perspectives, for example helping physicians work through distressing encounters with patients...
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"Physicians take oaths to their patients and make commitments to their partners. The challenge is to fulfill one set of promises without breaking the other."
Morris NP, Eshel N. Physicians Talking With Their Partners About Patients. JAMA. Published online August 16, 2019. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.12293
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