Doctor Beware! A Patient's Retained Licence Can Cause the Loss of Yours
Tracey Tremayne-Lloyd and Lonny J. Rosen
Physicians who treat elderly patients are well aware of how important a driver's licence is to a geriatric patient. The ability to drive represents perhaps the greatest source of independence to an elderly patient. The driver's licence ensures that he can maintain an active lifestyle, keeps up his social interaction and family ties, and that he has the ability to seek support or treatment for his ailments. All of these support systems are crucial to the health and wellbeing of an elderly patient, particularly as his health begins to fail. For this reason, it is particularly difficult for a family physician to contact her local Ministry of Transportation office and report that a patient has become medically unfit to drive. However, in most Canadian provinces, it is the physician's legal obligation to report any patient who has become unfit to drive, even when that report will result in the patient losing his driver's licence and all of its attendant benefits (especially the patient's independence). It is important to remember that while it is the Ministry, and not you the doctor, who will determine whether a patient's licence should be revoked, it is your licence to practice that may be jeopardized if you fail to make the required report.
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