Paging Dr. Landlord...
December 9, 2009 11:47 PM   Subscribe

Am I toeing a weird ethical line by considering using my internist landlord as my primary care physician?

I have a friendly relationship with my landlord. He and his wife run a medical and dental practice out of the first floor of the building. They are kind enough to rent the apartment upstairs to my family, on a month to month basis. It's a fairly casual rental agreement, I signed a piece of paper, they signed a piece of paper; I pay rent on time and they fix stuff when I ask them to. We've had no issues save for an overly whiny puppy scaring the patients and that was a one time occurrence. I plan to continue to rent from them for the foreseeable future until the real estate fairy bestows riches upon me.

I'd like to take advantage of the location and utilize their services as medical professionals on a non-emergency basis. I figure this is as close to a house call as I'm going to get in this day and age. On top of the convenient locale, I'd also like to sign on with their office because they are kind folks and I feel like I can talk openly with them about my health and well being.

Mr. Shotglass on the other hand is vehemently opposed to the idea and prefers to keep the landlord/lessee and doctor/patient relationships separate. He has past experience with not mixing medicine/the rest of his life as his dad is also Dr. Shotglass MD.

So MeFites, YANML and YA(probably)NMD. Am I making a mistake by letting my landlord have knowledge of my medical goings on? FWIW, I currently do not have a PCP and I have no preexisting major health issues.

Thanks for the input.
posted by mrsshotglass to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
Do you know if your landlord would even be willing to take you on as his patient? A friend of mine who is a GP is quite firm about not taking on patients with whom he has any relationship more than passing acquaintance (like, met you once at a party). Taking you on if you were his renter would be right out.

I do think it might not be the best idea for you to be his patient (even though I can see how it would be VERY convenient!) because your family and his family have a business relationship. I think your husband is right.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:11 AM on December 10, 2009

One of my long-time friends is my GP and it works out great. We are both small town folk so it is not weird to us at all to have that kind of relationship (my dentist growing up was my second cousin and my doctor lived next door and is still a family friend). I know most of my city friends would be uncomfortable with the arrangement because they are used to their lives being much more compartmentalized. So it probably depends on your own background really.
posted by fshgrl at 1:10 AM on December 10, 2009

I would ask Dr. Landlord if he thinks it would be weird and if he says yes, then ask for a referral.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:36 AM on December 10, 2009

Get a different doctor. What he would have to deal with about you very possibly could be to personal for someone he rents to. It could go good for a while, but at any moment a problem (let's say a STD?) could go over the edge.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 1:44 AM on December 10, 2009

I think it's a really bad idea. You really don't want your landlord knowing things that your doctor needs to know. Drug use, smoking, STIs? Even if you don't ever have any issues with these things, the fact that your doctor is also your landlord would make it hard for someone who did have issues to answer these questions truthfully. If I were the landlord/doctor in this position I would not want a tenant for a patient for this very reason.

What if, God forbid, you somehow got hurt in the apartment due to something your landlord could be liable for? Say, you got electrocuted by faulty wiring or burned by a furnace he should have fixed. It would be a huge mess.
posted by Violet Hour at 2:01 AM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you like them and you trust them, why not?

The only issue is the doctor's interpretation of his professional ethics, and whether they would be interested in doing it.
posted by gjc at 6:04 AM on December 10, 2009

Mr. Shotglass is right. But your landlord can probably give you a helpful referral.
posted by Perplexity at 6:28 AM on December 10, 2009

My old landlord was/is my optometrist. Part of the lease was huge discounts and free exams. It was cool, especially because his office was the ground floor of the building.

There's a big difference between eye health and whole-of-physical-being health, though.
posted by wrok at 6:42 AM on December 10, 2009

I'm thinking this is probably no big deal. Doctors are governed by pretty stringent rules of professional ethics, and most take those obligations pretty seriously. Doctors do not talk about patients with others--at least not in ways that could lead to a breach of privacy--and cannot use any information they gain in their capacity as your physician.

Then again, if your husband is uncomfortable with this, it may not be a hill you want to die on. Unless there are really compelling advantages to doing this beyond creating a pleasant social circle, i.e. they're vastly cheaper than the alternatives, it may not be worth the fight.
posted by valkyryn at 7:17 AM on December 10, 2009

Having a doctor in the same building you live in sounds wonderful, but read Violet Hour's advice carefully. I'm agreeing with Violet and Mr Shotglass. Don't do it.
posted by marsha56 at 1:29 PM on December 10, 2009

I think it's a bad idea. Some relationships need to stay professional. This is one of them. I could see the lines getting blurred very easily and leading to a lot of mess. Sacrifice the convenience.
posted by TooFewShoes at 4:51 PM on December 10, 2009

You ask if there are any ethical issues. No, but there could be some practical issues. What if something happens in one area of your relationship? Do you want it to affect the other? If some inadvertent malpractice issue arose, would that be a good time to need to find a new home? If they wanted you to move so one of their friends could rent the place, would you still want to see them as medical professionals? Some things are best left unmixed.
posted by Old Geezer at 7:06 PM on December 10, 2009

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