Dementia and the lack of help from Doctors in stopping a parent from driving.

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Doctor refusing to inform the DMV that Mom has dementia that impairs her driving! I quoted from info gotten off the internet that Medical Report Form must be completed by the Doctor if their ability to drive is impaired. I was told they would not do this without my Mother signing a consent form first. Well duh! If Mom would be willing to sign that, then why would I need anyone with official legal authority to do this for me in the first place?

8 Comments

Are you speaking directly to the doctor , or to his office staff? When they say "consent" are they talking about a HIPAA release?

I would send the form in a certified letter to the doctor, specifying that your mom has been diagnosed with dementia and asking her/him to sign the form. You CC it, also certified to DMV.

Alternatively, you could ask the doctor to send her for a driving evaluation. If she fails, those folks ( they are usually OTs) will notify DMV.
I called and asked to speak to the Nurse Practitioner who gave us the diagnosis, but the call was returned by a nurse on staff who was condescending, lecturing and impatient with me. I was told that the Doctor would not inform the DMV without my mother's signature on a consent form first. I was told that in the 6 years she worked there, the doctor had never contacted the DMV for anyone. I was told that it was my responsibility as caregiver. I was told that just because my mom had dementia and had recently driven the car into the garage door twice in the past 30 days that this did not mean my mother's ability to drive was impaired. The only help the nurse offered me was to make an appointment for my mom, dad, brother and myself to come in and discuss this with each other in the "presence" of the doctor. As for the driving evaluation, I assumed this would be a given once they diagnosed her a month ago when she scored 40 out of 100 on their test. But no, they did not want to even see her for a year until she decided to take the meds they said she could still get until she tested 30 or below. So she decided to take the pill and then they scheduled a 3 month appointment for a check up. What's with these people???
I think you need a new medical team. This isn't a Geriatric practice, is it?

If you have a teaching hospital nearby ( one that is affiliated with a medical school), call them and ask to speak to someone in that department for a referral.
In many states anyone call file a report with the DMV. It doesn't have to be a doc or a cop. Check out your states regs and file your own report if possible.
PVL, sorry you have this trouble. I went through this with mother, including a jury trial after she caused an injury accident. I finally won the battle.
PVL, it seems to me that you have run into a bunch of butt-covering healthcare ninnies. HIPAA is important, sure, but when life or limb are in danger, you break confidentiality sometimes. Maybe they are overinterpreting HIPAA - tht happens all the time, sometimes to truly ridiculous extremes, or maybe there are state laws tying their hands - and yet, some states have mandatory reporting laws...not necessarily a great idea, but that's another story. Did they at least TELL Mom she is not to drive? I would take them up on the offer of the family appointment - maybe they can give some appropriate counseling with everyone present that will make the path to safety a little clearer. Yogagirl points out the sorry truth here - people can be hurt or killed by impaired drivers and the consequences can be severe for them. No, you don't necessarily pull everyone with MCI off the road based on a single fender-bender, and if there is room for doubt, a specialized OT BTW eval is the best answer.
Disable the car or take the keys. Arrange alternate transportation for her to get to the market and church or where ever she has to go. Or offer to get the car washed, take to the shop to get it fixed, etc. Then keep it away for a while and see how things go.

We had a guy close by us who drove off the road into a field, got disoriented and froze to death over night. One old guy got 'on' at the 'off' ramp and had a head- on collision that was fatal for him. God forbid your relative injures someone else, runs over a child, gets lost in the wrong section of town, runs off a strange road into a ditch or onto the railroad tracks, etc. You are going to have to be the one to deal with it.
Lots of good suggestions ...Dad is still driving the car they share. I can't disable the car. HIPPA is not an issue, my name is on her medical records. That is why I was able to call the Neurologists office and speak to the nurse that was rude to me without my mother's knowledge or consent in the first place. We have friends who work in the local DMV, not sure they can be trusted not to tell my mother who turned her in. I am already looking into a new medical team, we do live near a teaching hospital with an Alzheimer and Dementia clinic and in process of running this past my brother for his input and approval. He is my parents "kid in charge"....so he's got the final say and I am great with that!

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