One researcher says a standardized tool to determine whether aperson is fit to drive is needed. (iStock) Physicians in Ontario are legally required to tell the Ministry ofTransportation when a patient is considered unfit to drive. However, a new study conducted by the Lawson Health ResearchInstitute suggests some doctors are not doing this as often as theyshould. Researchers found that 41 per cent of brain cancer patientsreceiving brain radiotherapy at London Health Sciences Centre wereadvised not to drive, but that only 30 per cent of these patientswere reported to the Ministry of Transportation. |
The rules say patients who've had seizures should automaticallylose their licence. But the study found only 56 per cent of themwere reported by doctors at London Health Sciences. Lead researcher Dr. David D'Souza says there are a number ofreasons why doctors fail to act.
"Sometimes, doctors don't want to upset the relationship thatthey're forming with the patient and their family, or take awaywhat's perceived as their livelihood," D'Souza said. "They want tobe their friend or advocate." D'Souza said in other cases, doctors just aren't sure what needs tobe done. He said what they need is a standardized tool to determine whethera person is fit to drive. For example, the institute said brain tumours can compromise apatient s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. The CanadianMedical Association has drafted guidelines to help physiciansassess these risks.
But according to Dr. Alex Louie, a scientist atLawson, 76 per cent of southwestern Ontario physicians caring forpatients with brain cancer feel reporting guidelines are unclear. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Transporation said thegovernment is working with the medical community to improve doctorsunderstanding of their reporting requirements. Llewellyn Webb, a senior from Windsor, Ont., has wet maculardegeneration, which will eventually cause him to go blind.
He was travelling to London four times a year for treatment on oneeye when the other began to go, as well. That's when doctorsrecommended he have his licence revoked. "I was very upset. But they know better than anyone else.
I justgave it up when they told me to," he said. "Gradually, every year,it got a little worse." Dr. Gary Ing is chief of staff at Windsor Regional Hospital. Hesaid each doctor has a simple question to answer before making adecision.
"Is the medical condition affecting his or her ability to drivesafely?" he said. "It s not only for their own safety but for thesafety of the public as well." Ing said if a person is seizure free for a year, they can bereassessed by a neurologist and possibly have their licencereinstated. "It s sometimes very difficult to take someone s license. Somepeople still rely on them on for their job and their livelihood,"Ing said.
"But it has to be done.".
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