How to keep a geriatric doctor away from the doctor who’s really sick
A geriatric physician is likely to find the practice more daunting than most, with patients usually seeking out their doctors to talk about symptoms and treatments.
And if you want to get a better understanding of how a geriatrist deals with patients and families, this article from the Guardian may be the best resource for that.
The Guardian interviewed one of the UK’s most respected geriatric specialists, Dr Andrew Riddle, who explained that a doctor who isn’t familiar with the patient’s symptoms will have difficulty understanding the nature of the illness, and will be unable to diagnose and treat it.
“There is a lot of misinformation about what the illness is, the symptoms, and the treatments that can be offered.
A geriatric doctor will probably have to be much more sensitive to that,” Dr Riddle said.
When you can’t explain what you’re seeing to your doctor, Dr Riddles advice is to “do a bit of research and read the literature”.
If you’re still unsure about what a geriac doctor is talking about, Dr Toulon advises reading about geriatric medicine and how it works and how they treat patients.
“If you read through the literature, you’ll probably find that the majority of the geriatrists that I work with don’t actually understand what they’re talking about.
So if you’re asking them to explain something that’s not really understood, you’re probably not going to understand what’s being said.”
And if you are, there’s always the option of a referral from a specialist GP.
If this sounds like a daunting prospect, that’s because it is.
According to Dr Riddell, there are only a handful of geriatric doctors who are qualified to work in a large hospital setting, and many who have been trained in primary care settings.
But he also warned that if you decide to become a geriatrics doctor, it’s best to do so before you have a diagnosis of an incurable condition or a family history of such an illness.
“The reason that you need to do this is that the only way to get accurate diagnosis is to have a real clinical examination and you have to have your diagnosis tested and that’s going to take a lot longer,” Dr Touny said.
“You may have to wait months or years for an accurate diagnosis, and that can often be a deterrent to someone who might want to be a gerber.”
So, while you’re at it, you can always consider getting a referral.
If you’d like to get involved, head over to www.geriatrics.org.uk to sign up and register to become one of more than 15,000 new doctors who will be eligible for the first year of the scheme.