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When a Patient's Family Asks a Physician to Intervene


A Physicians Practice reader recently shared a dilemma he is facing in practice. Weigh in to help him best deal with this issue.

The following is a difficult situation a Physicians Practice reader is facing that he recently shared with our editors. He asked that we share it with other readers to see if anyone has advice regarding how to best handle the situation:

The daughter of one of my elderly patients called me to report that she and her siblings have become concerned about their dad's driving.  They have witnessed some near-misses and now are afraid to ride with him in his car, which seems to have a lot of dents and scratches lately.  She asked me to broach the subject of his driving with her dad, but begged me not to let him know she called, as he is not only very independent, but has a very short fuse.  I know that he has had a mild stroke in the past and has seemed to be more forgetful lately. 

In the past, concealing family concerns over elderly patients' driving has not gone well. It has led to angry patients directing their fury at me for raising the issue, which I must do to protect both the patient and others on the road.
Do you have any advice for how the reader can best handle this situation? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Your response could help this physician, and others, deal with this type of situation and similar ones like it.Facing a dilemma in practice? E-mail it to Aubrey.Westgate@ubm.com. We’ll share it without revealing your name, and we will ask other physician readers to weigh in.

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