Doctors face a daunting challenge when they are treating a patient who is impaired or has a disability that makes that patient an unsafe driver.
Doctors shouldn’t notify the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles without talking with the patient, and with the patient’s permission, notify their family and the DMV, unless the patient has already done so.
Those are some of the key conclusions discussed in a story in the Spring 2016 Dateline newsletter published by the Medical Liability Mutual Insurance Co.
According to Donnaline Richmond, counsel to the company, doctors need to document every step they take to protect themselves and their employer.
Doctors know patients will rarely do what’s required and report a disabling condition to the DMV, Richmond said. So doctors need to inform and warn patients of the risk of their medical condition – and fully document those warnings.
According to Richmond, among the steps doctors should document:
- How medication or a medical condition make it unsafe for the patient to drive.
- All attempts to communicate doctors’ concerns to the patients and their families, and their attempts to gain consent from patients.
- All DMV paperwork completed for the patient, once the doctor has the patient’s written authorization.
- All phone records from calls to patients and their family members regarding the patients’ inability to drive.
- Patients’ written authorization to release medical information.
- Reports to the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped, if it applies.
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