Monday, January 7, 2013

When should a physician retire?

This is an interesting topic.
I do have many anecdotes.
I do not know how physicians or the College monitors doctors who ought to retire. Most family members do not seem to complain.

 I reported my late father's doctor to the College. They intervened quite well. It took me 3 days to get pain meds for my father. The nurses couldn't get him to respond to their calls. In LTC they, the Charge Nurses, are the official contact people. The LTC physicians are more than useless, for the most part. The worst is a doctor who marched into a room where I was sitting at the bedside of a woman.
Dying, in a coma, on CAD for morphine. I was giving respite to her daughter who was taking a break.

No name tag, no lab coat. I as wearing a name tag, but he couldn't see it for the bed railing and I'm not sure he knew who I was. I'd never seen him before.
He took her vitals, then said, "She just won't die."
I told him, "She isn't ready. She has something left to teach us."
Well, she did die two days later.
A month after that, I saw him in the paper, receiving an award for his work at the hospital. I had no idea who he was until I saw the photo.
He began practicing around the time I was born. (I'm 56.) There doesn't seem to be much accountability.

Another story: I contacted a family, since my client was not doing well. A WW II vet. The patient had been in hospital. Doctor never bothered to see him post-discharge, back in the retirement home, and follow up with his pneumonia.
I thought his pneumonia hadn't gone, me, a volunteer. The nurse never darkened the door. The doctor is well beyond when he should be practicing.
The family was told his needs were being taken care of, but he was in a filthy room. A storage room they'd cleaned out as their elevator was broken.
Family told the doctor to get in there. Doctor told them patient had a 'touch of pneumonia.'
Shameful, these men. Yes, primarily men.
My late father's doctor who couldn't make house calls. Unable to see clients, both my late mom and dad. He didn't want to give up his practice in the small town of Bala, which meant these seniors were not finding new doctors. He should have taken my dad's licence away BEFORE dad had dementia from his brain tumour.Dad would get lost on the way home. Instead, it took a grand-mal seizure for the doctor to realize something was wrong. 
These old guys become more like friends after many years. They lose their perspective. They forget professional boundaries. They don't seem to read current research. Nor do they change their practice.
Most of the time I have to fight as a patient advocate, to help family members get pain relief.
They believe all these myths of pain management and haven't moved into the modern world.

That said, I have had a client who was given a diagnosis of breast cancer. The doctor had the best beside manner ever. A woman doctor, my age-ish. She was empathetic. She was encouraging. 'We'll work on this together. You got rid it 15 years ago, we'll try again.'
This client, a woman on disability, with schizophrenia, and many old-fashioned ideas, as well a obsessive-compulsive... she was given much dignity and respect by this female physician.
These are the people we must laud.

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