All doctors to put own health first - due to Kiwi
A Kiwi doctor’s efforts have led the World Medical Association to amend the Declaration of Geneva – the vow made by doctors upon entering the profession.
Sam Hazledine has been fighting to improve doctors’ wellbeing after researching the ‘‘alarming’’ rates of burnout, suicide and mental health issues they experience. He found these issues could lead to medical errors and ultimately harm patients.
He believed it all started when doctors took the oath with the statement: ‘‘The health of my patient will be my first consideration.’’
He launched a petition, signed by more than 4500 Australasian doctors, to add a clause prioritising doctors’ wellbeing to the declaration.
The petition was presented to the medical association’s general assembly in Taipei last year.
After a consultation process and work on the clause’s wording, the assembly ratified the change in Chicago this week.
The new clause states: ‘‘I will attend to my own health, wellbeing and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standard.’’
It is one of three new clauses that have been added as part of a broader review of the declaration. The other new clauses relate to the respect of patients’ autonomy and dignity, and the sharing of medical knowledge.
The declaration of Geneva was adopted in 1948 as a global standard of medical ethics after the atrocities during World War II. It has been amended three times.
Recent research by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons showed 87 per cent of doctors said they were stressed and more than half said that in hindsight, they would not choose to become a doctor.
In New Zealand, the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists published a report last year showing half of public hospital specialists felt burnt-out, potentially affecting patient care and increasing the risk of medical errors.
The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners said it needed to address burnout in doctors after a 2016 survey revealed 22 per cent of GPs selfreported being burnt-out.
Hazledine left the medical profession 11 years ago to create his own medical recruitment company, MedRecruit. He realised he was suffering burnout while researching the issue.
At the time, he worked 15 hour days and dedicated all his free time to his family with two young children.
New Zealand doctor Sam Hazledine.