Serious health issues ignored by 92 year old father's doctor


My 92 year old father's doctor consistently ignored serious symptoms,complaints and questions from both my father and myself. He would make jokes when I expressed concerns over what I considered elder abuse by a family member's badgering, resulting in Dad's becoming very depressed. Obvious (now) physical symptoms were also ignored, and when Dad asked what was wrong with him, the doctor replied, "You're just God damn old, see you in six months". Dad would reply that he'd be dead in six days and the doctor would laugh. I had him in the office every week for a month, and when I finally asked for help in the home, it took two follow-up calls to get him to order the VNA to come in. They immediately picked up on several serious issues and after barely two weeks, sent Dad to the emergency room. It turns out that he has diabetes and congestive heart failure, among other things, and the symptoms were blatantly obvious. He was told by his doctor to go on the "Haagen Das diet" and eat anything and everything to gain weight, and he has diabetes. He was told that he was out of breath and couldn't walk five steps without stopping because he didn't exercise enough, and he has CHF. The list goes on and on, and they're all serious conditions. The hospital and now rehab doctors are all understandably quiet about his former care. Dad had been doing so well, but he has slipped so much in a period of about a month that it looks like he won't be able to return home again due to the 24/7 safety issues and nursing care that family just can't provide. So, my question is - what should I do about this, if anything? I feel that the doctor's practice should know about my concerns, at least. I don't want to create a huge mess when we're now facing Dad's serious health issues, the unexpected prospects of a permanent nursing home, dealing with Medicare, our family home now vacant - but I also don't want other seniors treated so poorly by this man. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

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I would report him to the Medical board as previously advised.

I think you should speak to the doctor personally about your concerns and let him know why your are going to switch physicians because there are doctors who do give patients respect and good care, no matter what their age, as they should. It should be a given that when you are paying for a service, you receive good care. He should be accountable and perhaps confronting him with his behavior will give him an attitude check.

We were in a similar situation with my FIL. He fell at 83 (while climbing a fence to chop a tree limb down!) and afterwards complained of hip pain. He went to the dr who told him he was getting old and had arthritis. He lived with the pain for two years, and then went to the ER for an unrelated problem. They took xrays and found an old hip fracture.

I've heard other stories, doctors dismissing elders' complaints and attributing them to age. I don't know what the answer is, except perhaps if you run into the attitude to not give up, go to another doctor, and another if you need to, until you find one who is respectful of your parent and will listen and address their complaints and concerns.

If you feel the doctor was unprofessional and failed to make significant diagnoses, you can always report him to your state's medical board. It may or may not make any difference but it might make you feel better.