I was bemused today when thinking about how many elderly patients have one primary doctor for most of their life. They often feel that they need to be loyal to this GP, and sometimes will refuse to see any other doctor.
These long term relationships can actually be a little one sided at times; I’ve even heard some older patients comment on how they feel they can’t leave. I remember one lady in particular who, when asked who her GP was, responded with: *sigh* “Oh Dr Keller… I don’t like him much, but have been going to him for 30 years!” For the most part, however the person is pleased to have
such a wonderful, all powerful, all knowing doctor as their very own!
What I find odd about this relationship is that the elderly patient will take their particular doctor’s word as bond above all other doctors. “But Dr Regas says!…” they will argue to the emergency physicians.
What really sparked my interest in this phenomena today however, was when an elderly lady presented to emergency with complaints of chest pain. Her workup after bloods / ECG etc. resulted in a diagnosis of an inferior MI. She had a really strong cardiac history with previous MI’s, coronary artery bypass grafts and ischaemic heart disease. She stated she had felt some similar pains in her chest one week ago, but didn’t go to her GP because he was away on holiday & she thought she’d see him when he got back!!
Today’s society doesn’t seem to have this same connection. While it’s great to find a good GP, we certainly don’t always feel the same bond or the need to prove loyalty to one doctor. The days of “Dr Jones has treated all our family for 50 years!” seems to be a thing of the past. Seeing a fill in doctor from time to time isn’t a major hassle, and people just won’t go back to a bad GP.
Obviously it’s important to have a primary GP for many reasons such as consistency and continuum of care, but was there a bond that seemed to exist back in the day that just isn’t there these days?
Interesting how times seem to change… or maybe the role of a doctor is different today?