Recently, within 24 hours, two disturbing incidents concerning senior citizens and their family physicians came to the attention of this fellow septuagenarian.
One older patient who is the ongoing provider for a family with a mentally handicapped dependant, and who has been affected with ongoing renal failure, told his wife that he had been declared by his ($400 000 + $50 000) GP that he was too old to qualify for dialysis. The anguished wife was later reassured on good authority that age plays no part in the criteria for dialysis.
The other patient, who has helped to successfully raise a large, productive family despite many hardships and heath problems, told me of her belief that her GP did not like old patients. Having finally found a new (expensive) drug that clearly controlled her digestive problems, and having assumed that her GP might be willing to make a request for a repeat special Rx, she was told to “never mind,” after being reminded of the inconvenience that such a special request entailed. Consequently, after returning to an older “covered” prescription, her digestive distress returned. She is hoping to find a more understanding doctor.
As it still seems true that doctors relate better to patients of their own generation, is it unreasonable to suppose that some may have lost sight of the particular demands of their own (perhaps underprivileged) parents, uncles, or grandmothers?
—W.D. Panton, MD
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