A recently published study suggests that elderly patients who have type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and other diseases get less time with doctors that they think they should. This results in patients not receiving individualized treatment plans they need and, according to some, not receiving the active treatment they require.
The report is about a focus group study that took place in central Pennsylvania and involved patients aged 60 to 88 years (average age, 75.3 years). The patients had lived with T2DM for an average of 15 years and had at least one comorbidity.
Has medical malpractice occurred if a doctor does not spend enough time with a patient because of their age or an existing medical condition? If a patient’s condition worsens, it would certainly be prudent to examine the case with the help of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.
Is Age Discrimination Grounds for Medical Malpractice?
Some patients told the researchers “they believed that age discrimination was a factor in their treatment, with one woman stating that doctors were sometimes not as aggressive in treating someone her age because she was ‘closer to death’ than younger patients.”
Study participants also said doctors were not fully aware of the difficulties of living with T2DM and managing other chronic ailments. More than half of the patients said healthcare providers were hesitant to treat them after finding out they had T2DM. “I think they’re worried about complications and malpractice,” one patient said. “But they aren’t looking out for my best interests.”
Some of the elderly patients who were surveyed said doctors did not listen to them and that their recommendations often conflicted with their medical conditions. One patient, for example, said her doctor told her to exercise more despite the fact that she had spinal stenosis and arthritis. “They just don’t want to understand that I can’t exercise,” the patient said.
Patients also “expressed great frustration over not having enough time to consult with doctors, and said they needed more individualized treatment plans than they are getting.”
The report begins by stating that a “CMS policy change that will pay primary care doctors to coordinate care (by) taking more time with patients who have multiple chronic conditions is probably long overdue.”
We’re not sure that “probably” belongs in that statement.
By CMS policy or by a proper allegiance to their Hippocratic Oath, doctors should take the time to talk to and listen to their patients if they are to avoid failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis of potentially serious medical conditions. What’s more distressing is that doctors who are dealing with elderly patients who have T2DM and comorbidities are fully aware of the gamble they take by not treating their patients with their full attention and care.
If you or an elderly loved one of yours developed severe complications from T2DM or a comorbidity despite regular examinations by their doctor, you should discuss the case and any concerns you have with a medical malpractice attorney. What a doctor has failed to do can as wrong and legally actionable as an error made during treatment.
Source: The American Journal of Managed Care, “Study Finds Older Adults With T2DM, Comorbidities Aren’t Getting Enough Treatment Time,” Tony Hagen, May 5, 2015