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A parent’s lifestyle choice – part one

Background 

Mrs Smith is mother of two children aged five and seven. 

She comes to see Dr Pai as she has lost some weight and is finding hard to concentrate at work. She is also having bad headaches.

She tells Dr Pai that she has cut out protein and carbohydrate from her own and her children’s diet, after reading an article that said it helps people live longer. The family are now mainly eating green vegetables. 

Scenario 

Dr Pai explains that cutting out protein and carbohydrate is probably a factor. He asks Mrs Smith how it is affecting her children. 

Mrs Smith avoids answering. She tells Dr Pai that research shows that the new diet will extend her children’s lives by ten years.

Dr Pai suggests that she sees a dietician for advice but Mrs Smith refuses. When he tries to encourage her, she becomes upset and leaves the surgery abruptly.

Dr Pai’s worried about the effects of the extreme diet on Mrs Smith and her young family. He is concerned about her unwillingness to engage in discussion. 

What the doctor did 

Dr Pai calls Mrs Smith two weeks later. He explains that he’d like to see her again to talk about the diet 

You can find out what happened next when you read part two of the case study.

What the doctor had to consider

  • Identifying signs of abuse or neglect early, and taking action quickly, are important in protecting children and young people.
  • Doctors should work with parents and families, where possible, to make sure that children and young people are receiving the care and support they need. Good communication with parents is essential (paragraph 8). 
  • Doctors should normally discuss any concerns they have about the safety and welfare of a child or young person with their parents.
  • Being open and honest with families, and avoiding judgemental comments or allocating blame, can encourage families to cooperate and help children and young people stay with their families in safety (paragraphs 20–22).