"Munchausen by proxy syndrome": not only pathological parenting but also problematic doctoring?

Med J Aust. 2003 Feb 3;178(3):130-2. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2003.tb05104.x.


Certain social expectations of medicine combine with characteristics of subspecialised technological paediatrics to facilitate the form of child abuse labelled "Munchausen by proxy syndrome". Examining this form of child abuse highlights possible shortcomings of medical practice. The primary medical tasks of diagnosing and curing illness and of preventing suffering are sometimes overridden by other motivations of which doctors may not be fully aware. More open discussion of what motivates health professionals in their work may improve medical practice and lead to a reduced incidence of Munchausen by proxy syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / diagnosis*
  • Child Abuse / psychology
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Munchausen Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Munchausen Syndrome / psychology
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Physician's Role*