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Doctor sued over fatal crash by patient with dementia
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Haylen_WebMD_Staff posted:
In 2010, an 85-year-old driver caused a crash that killed her longtime boyfriend.

A doctor, who treated the driver for dementia for two years, is now facing a wrongful death lawsuit for the accident:

Doctor accused of failing to report his patient so the DMV could take her license.

Should the doctor bear some responsibility for the death?

Weigh in here!

Haylen
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Anon_24521 responded:
Its hard to be the first one to reply! But I say that the doctor may not have had accurate information presented to him to adequately asses the patients driving abilities...
I work in a diabetes office, and I know that we have to sign every 6 months or so to renew their drivers license, and we require to do a physical and make sure they are capable of driving before we do so. This protects us from being victims of lawsuit...
I am wondering if there are similar forms for dementia patients? I dont know alot about dementia, I know some people have it really bad, and some dont. They also have good days and bad days, but like I say we dont primarily treat dementia so I dont know.
I also think that no doctor in the world intends to let a person out onto the street to pose a danger or a threat to the public.

an 85 year old womans long time boyfriend? So he was probably about 80 years old as well. Lets me completely honest.... Most patients I meet over 80 know they are going to die soon. Her boyfriend could have asked her to crash her car and kill them. His family must be suing, and if you ask me they are on wrongful grounds.... They should accept his death as an accident and move on instead of going after a doctor who probably had nothing to do with it.
 
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Jeune1 responded:
Frankly, I'd rather share the road with 10 people with early stage Alz's than 5 otherwise healthy adults who are checking their text messages.

Looks like the state my have some case against him but I don't know whether he had a DUTY to report. I'm not comfortable with the precedent a civil case sets, especially when it looks like the plaintiffs had some knowledge that their dad's friend had memory problems but still let him ride with her. And how will they respond if the defense is in her doctor's opinion, she was still fit to drive?

In my state there is a long list of conditions that should be reported by the driver and if not, may be reported by the doctor. Does anyone want their doctor telling the state's MVA they have insulin-controlled diabetes, for example, or bipolar disorder, because their doctor is afraid they'll be sued if they don't? It just creates the way for non-medical people to insert themselves into the doctor pt relationship and that is never a good thing.
 
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Fowden responded:
No. Not unless there is evidence that in this case the Dr. was "Grossly Negligent."
 
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jodymae57 responded:
Being 73 in November I understand how important it is to feel that you are still self sufficient. BUT at the same time I would want the doctor to be honest about me too. I do not want to be responsible for someone else's life. I would find a way to get where I needed to go. I felt bad years ago when I worked at a nursing home. A really nice older man came to see his wife every single day. But his eye sight was really bad. One day I was coming to work and he pulled out right into me where I was pulling into the driveway. I had to file a report due to the damage on my car. I hated the fact that he lost his license but it was just too dangerous to ignore it. I would want the same for me. The doctor should have spoken up.
 
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foxymama25 responded:
think that the doctor should definately be responsible. the patient had to know she had dementia if she was being treated for it. she should not have been allowed to drive or have a drivers license. my great grandmother had this illness and she absolutely did not drive and we had the house set up with alarms so she couldnt wonder off somewhere and get hurt. there are reasons why there are lock downs at nursing homes for dementia and alzheimer patients. its not to be cruel or to take their freedom away its to keep them safe and to protect them.
 
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RRT518 responded:
I believe that the Dr. should bear some responsibility, assuming that he did know the patient had dementia( since he was treating her for said disease). The DMV can not assume a patient has dementia, it must be documented by that persons physician. It appears that the physician might have missed the pt's decline, however, in the physicians defence we do not know when the physician last saw the patient. The patient could have declined a lot since her last appointment. There are no guidelines for reporting to the DMV that I know of, it's a judgement call. But if the physician was neglectful then he should be held responsible.
 
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silkstocking47 responded:
The family should be the best source of knowing if her ability to drive was diminished, and if so, they should have taken the responsibility themselves to stop her. If the doctor felt she was too diminished, then yes, he should have reported it to the DMV as well. If the family thinks this is the case, and they don't want to be the "bad guy", they can call their local Police Department and talk to an officer about it. The PD can watch for that driver, follow them, and inevitably they will make some infraction and can be pulled over. The officer can then have them retake a driver's test, and if they are impaired, problem solved since they won't pass.
 
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chocolatecity77071 responded:
The doctor can only do so much. He cant police his patients. I know of someone with Parkinsons and Dementia that went to the DMV to get his drivers license renewed. And they renewed it. It seems like patients are not held accountable for their actions anymore. She was driving not the doctor. Its a tragic accident but i dont feel the doctor was to blame.


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