Should My 92 Year Old Father Get A Different Doctor?
August 23, 2014 10:38 PM Subscribe
My 92 year old father went for his annual physical in May and I have had concerns with the quality of care he has received both during the physical and in several followups. However, I don't know if I should encourage him to go to a different doctor (there aren't many locally who are accepting new patients, and I don't know their quality, but we could try). Details after the jump.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (5 answers total)
In May my 92 year old father (frail, poor short-term memory, but otherwise in good health) went for his physical.
The physical lasted less than 15 minutes, possibly only 10 (I'm going by my mother's report at the time as she went in with him, and I trust that it is accurate; she's good with that sort of detail). I'm a little dubious about the quality of such a short physical, but I'm not a medical professional, so I don't know for sure. My mother says that his breathing was checked but no rectal was performed. She can't remember much else about it (I only asked her for the details this past week).
Since then, the following issues have arisen:
- the doctor has asked my father to go from 1 to 2 pills a day of a supplement that he had never previously prescribed
- the doctor noted that one of my father's blood levels was alarmingly low and if it was not improved, organ failure could result. He gradually increased the dosage of the relevant medication/mineral supplement (different from the one mentioned in the previous point). My dad went from 1 to 2 daily and then from 2 to 3 daily. After a couple of months of monitoring blood levels, the doctor directed that my father's intake go from 1 to 2 a day. I had to point out that because of his previous direction my father was already at 3 pills a day, so then he raised the level to 4 a day
- the results of 3 weeks of blood work went missing and the absence was only noted when I called because I was concerned about my father's blood levels. The lab results were finally located, but the doctor did not receive timely information on my father's health. After they were located I had to call back twice to find out what the results were
On the plus side, the doctor has treated my father very well in person and has been kind to my anxious mother when she is with my father (I went in to their last appointment and took notes).
On the one hand, everyone makes mistakes. I know the doctor is extremely busy, and he works out of a very busy multiple doctor clinic which allows for both appointments and walk-ins by people who are not previous patients; I get that the administration might be strained. However, this is multiple mistakes over 3 months.
Also, I don't know that a new doctor would be any better. There are very few accepting new patients, and the one that I've had recommended to me has very mixed reviews on a ratings site.
I've considered staying with this doctor and writing a polite letter outlining my concerns and cc'ing it to the regulatory body. However, I wonder what result that would have on future care.
My parents are willing to be guided by my recommendations on this and they are also willing to have me go to every doctor's appointment from here on in, to take notes and ask questions, and to keep track of all the details of the medical care. Although I can follow up on the things I know about, I can't foresee everything, so I'm concerned about that.
What would you recommend I do? Switch doctors and take a chance that the new one will have issues as well? Write the letter and take the chance that there is poorer care with the current doctor as a result? Or . . . ?
Thank you in advance for any help you can give me.