“A physician who treats himself has a fool for a patient.”

– Sir William Osler (1849-1919)

We have all been in the awkward position of having to use our medical degree to treat a family member or ourselves when our own physician wasn’t available. For example, after getting off the plane en route to a family resort vacation, my 3-year-old son began screaming and holding his ear. What to do? After confirming otitis media using the otoscope of the resort nurse, I did what any other pediatrician/father would do: called in a prescription for amoxicillin. The pharmacist was more than happy to fill it and even deliver it to the resort. But did I do something illegal? Unprofessional? Immoral?

Surveys demonstrate that greater than half of all physicians routinely prescribe medications for themselves, their families or acquaintances. The most commonly self-prescribed medications include antibiotics, antihistamines and contraceptives. A recent...

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