Informal consultations: a case report of a young doctor as a patient


  • Sara Carlos Unidade de Cuidados de Saúde Personalizados da Sé, Unidade Local de Saúde do Nordeste. Bragança, Portugal.
  • Joana Gomes da Silva Unidade de Cuidados de Saúde Personalizados Mirandela II, Unidade Local de Saúde do Nordeste. Mirandela, Portugal.
  • Pedro Morgado Life and Health Sciences Research Institute (ICVS), School of Medicine, University of Minho. Braga, Portugal | ICVS/3B’s, PT Government Associate Laboratory. Braga/Guimarães, Portugal.



Hallway medicine, Informal consultations, Communication, Physicians, Case report


Introduction: Informal consultations are medical acts characterized by the individual's self-referral to a doctor, without clinical record or adequate follow-up. Despite controversy, this practice is an integral part of medical culture. This case report highlights the importance of understanding the consequences of informal consultations and the desirability of a preventive attitude towards one’s own health.

Case description: A 28-year-old female health professional requests an informal consultation due to low-back pain after two months of evolution where a tentative diagnosis and treatment plan were brainstormed. Symptom aggravation led her to a formal ortho-traumatology consultation, whereupon she was definitively diagnosed with a herniated lumbar disc, and a treatment plan was discussed and implemented, with good outcomes.

Commentary: This case reveals the complexity of clinical communication and psychosocial context involving informal consultations. Healthcare professionals are particularly susceptible to belittling signs and symptoms, using informal consultations to tackle the clinical situation quickly and be able to work, but without really addressing the underlying problem.


Não há dados estatísticos.


Peleg A, Peleg R, Porath A, Horowitz Y. Hallway medicine: prevalence, characteristics and attitudes of hospital physicians. Isr Med Assoc J. 1999;1(4):241-4.

Levy MA, Arnold RM, Kapoor WN, Fine MJ. Professional courtesy: current practices and attitudes – Reply. N Engl J Med. 1994;330(15):1086.

Rawnsley K. Physician, don’t heal thyself: let someone else try! Practitioner. 1989;233(1471):891.

Stoudemire A, Rhoads JM. When the doctor needs a doctor: special considerations for the physician-patient. Ann Intern Med. 1983;98(5 Pt 1):654-9.

Kay M, Mitchell G, Clavarino A, Doust J. Doctors as patients: a systematic review of doctors’ health access and the barriers they experience. Br J Gen Pract. 2008;58(552):501-8.

Cardoso RM, editor. Competências clínicas de comunicação. Porto: Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade do Porto; 2012. ISBN 978-989-97953-0-3

Forsythe M, Calnan M, Wall B. Doctors as patients: postal survey examining consultants and general practitioners adherence to guidelines. BMJ. 1999;319(7210):605-8.

Thompson WT, Cupples ME, Sibbett CH, Skan DI, Bradley T. Challenge of culture, conscience, and contract to general practitioners’ care of their own health: qualitative study. BMJ. 2001;323(7315):728-31.

Kübler-Ross E, Kessler D. The five stages of grief. In: Kübler-Ross E, Kessler D, editors. On grief and grieving: finding the meaning of grief through the five stages of loss. Scribner; 2009. p. 7-30.

Bennadi D. Self-medication: a current challenge. J Basic Clin Pharm. 2013;5(1):19-23.

Keating NL, Zaslavsky AM, Ayanian JZ. Physicians’ experiences and beliefs regarding informal consultation. JAMA. 1998;280(10):900-4.

Kuo D, Gifford DR, Stein MD. Curbside consultation practices and attitudes among primary care physicians and medical subspecialists. JAMA. 1998;280(10):905-9.

Davidson SK, Schattner PL. Doctors’ health-seeking behaviour: a questionnaire survey. Med J Aust. 2003;179(6):302-5.

Rosvold EO, Bjertness E. Illness behaviour among Norwegian physicians. Scand J Public Health. 2002;30(2):125-32.

Amran MM, Kopit AB, Kranc HA, Peleg R. The prevalence, reasons and attitudes for the practice of informal medicine. BMC Fam Pract. 2021;22(1):30.

Kasnakoğlu BT, Pak H. Role expectations from doctors and effects on nonmedical outcomes. J Eval Clin Pract. 2020;26(3):903-10.

Uallachain GN. Attitudes towards self-health care: a survey of GP trainees. Ir Med J. 2007;100(6):489-91.

Chambers R, Belcher J. Self-reported health care over the past 10 years: a survey of general practitioners. Br J Gen Pract. 1992;42(357):153-6.

Christie JD, Rosen IM, Bellini LM, Inglesby TV, Lindsay J, Alper A, et al. Prescription drug use and self-prescription among resident physicians. JAMA. 1998;280(14):1253-5.

Campbell S, Delva D. Physician do not heal thyself: survey of personal health practices among medical residents. Can Fam Physician. 2003;49:1121-7.




Como Citar

Carlos, S., Gomes da Silva, J., & Morgado, P. (2023). Informal consultations: a case report of a young doctor as a patient. Revista Portuguesa De Medicina Geral E Familiar, 39(5), 428–33.