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May A Doctor Treat His Own Parents?

May A Doctor Treat His Own Parents?

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Question:

In our study group, we reviewed the verse prohibiting a person from wounding his father and mother.1 A member of our study group was wondering how this applies to him as a Torah-observant doctor. Is he allowed to treat his own parents if it involves drawing blood?

Answer:

Although the actual Biblical prohibition would apply to one who wounds his parent with vicious intent, and not a doctor who is doing something good, we are nonetheless enjoined not to do anything that will cause our parents to bleed. In fact, the Talmud tells of various sages who did not allow their sons to remove splinters or perform similar tasks for them for this reason. By the same token, a child who is a doctor should not perform any procedure that may involve drawing blood.2

Maimonides rules that this is only the case if there is another person who can do the job. If, however, there is no one else, and the parent is in pain, the child-doctor should do whatever is necessary, as long as his parent consents.3

Some take this a step further and teach that a doctor may perform the procedure if he is the most qualified and his parents would prefer him over another doctor.4

I would suggest that your friend discuss this issue with a competent Orthodox rabbi so that he will be prepared to act in the right way should the need arise.

Footnotes
2.

Sanhedrin 84a.

3.

Yad Hachazakah, Hilchot Mamrim 5:7.

4.

Aruch HaShulchan, Yoreh Deah 241:6.

Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for Chabad.org.
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Daniel Ramos January 22, 2014

healthy food I am concerned about good eating habits and healthy living...Selecting good food
and good digesting of food consumtion.. Reply

Anonymous johannesburg November 5, 2011

a doctor should avoid treating his or her family Medical ethics frowns on doctors treating their own family. Clinical judgement is potentially impaired when the patient is emotionally close. Reply

Mamzer Hakodesh February 15, 2011

You forgot the most important exception... Picuach Nefesh. Almost any law may be broken to save a life. This would seem to override even your parents' objections to being treated by you. Reply

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