Suppose I am a surgeon, and I am renowned for doing a certain type of operation. If my father is in need of that operation, is there a heter for me to operate on him or is there still the prohibition of striking/wounding my father?
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Question: Is a physician or dentist permitted to diagnose and treat illness in close members of his own family? Does the ruling apply equally to parent, sibling, spouse, child, aunt, uncle, cousin, nephew, niece etc.? Is a physician permitted to perform a complete physical examination on his close relative? May a physician or dentist draw blood from, or perform surgery on, or administer medication to his parents?
Answer: A physician or dentist should not draw blood, give injections, or perform surgery (even minor) on his parents, but may do so for all other relatives. If a life~threatening medical emergency arises, a physician may treat his parents, if no equally competent physician is available.
Comment: No greater honor can a Jewish physician bestow upon his father and mother than diagnosing and treating their physical ailments, particularly if the parent considers his or her child to be more competent than other physicians. Thus, all diagnostic and therapeutic procedures including history taking, physical examination and prescribing treatment are allowed in the fulfillment of Honor thy father and mother. Because of emotional involvement with family, the advice and cooperation of a colleague should be available.
There is, however, a Biblical prohibition against inflicting a wound upon one’s parent, and therefore, any diagnostic procedure that involves drawing blood, giving injections, lancing boils or other minor or major surgery, all of which are considered to constitute a “wound,” should not be performed by a physician or dentist, unless no equally competent physician or dentist is available.
No such restriction exists for all other relatives, including siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews, children and spouses!
(Source: Shuichan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah, Rama 241:2)
This Halacha Bulletin was written by Fred Rosner, MD, FACP and Rabbi Moshe D. Tendler, PhD and reviewed by HaRav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l.
The Aruch Hashulchan writes in Siman 241 Saif 6 that if
the son may draw blood or operate.
Also, if he is more qualified than another and his father prefers him he may do so. This is also the ruling of the Ben Ish Chai who writes that if another is unavailable the son may draw blood or operate on his father.