promotion image of download ymail app
Promoted

Do doctors place a patient age limit on what procedures they will perform?

My 86-year-old friend of mine is experiencing excruciating knee pain to the point she is practically an invalid and it is causing her heart to fibrillate. She told me that her doctor said she is not a candidate for knee surgery. He also will not order a colonoscopy for her. I just wondered if the doctor's reticence could be due to her age and if there is an age cut-off for medical procedures.

7 Answers

Relevance
  • Anonymous
    9 months ago
    Favourite answer

    No, there isn't a limit, but the reason is that the doctor feels in this case that the risks outweigh dealing with the problem conservatively. This would be assessed for each patient differently. A knee replacement is major surgery with extreme levels of pain after and there is also the risk of blood clots. Colonoscopy in the elderly is more likely to have complications such as perforation and also from anaesthesia. If she is worried about bowel cancer, there is a stool test that is recommended instead of an invasive procedure.

    • Commenter avatarLog in to reply to the answers
  • Edna
    Lv 7
    9 months ago

    No; doctors don't usually place an "age limit" on what procedures they will perform.

    I had a friend whose SIL (who was only in her late 40's) suffered from debilitating knee pain. Her doctor refused to recommend that she have her knee joints replaced, because she was so obese that she would be unable to walk on her "new" knee joints unless she first lost a great deal of weight. - which she never tried to do and so she ended up confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

    Your friend's doctor doesn't want order a colonoscopy because: (1) The pain in her knees has absolutely nothing to do with the need for a colonoscopy and that procedure would be unnecessary; and (2) Because of the heart fibrillation that she is experiencing, which is probably being caused by her knee pain.

    • Commenter avatarLog in to reply to the answers
  • 9 months ago

    It's due to her age as well as her underlying conditions.

    The pain didn't cause her A-Fib. It's just something that happens to a lot of people when they get older.

    She isn't a candidate for surgery because she likely wouldn't survive it. Her cardiovascular system is too fragile for such a major surgery to be safe.

    With the colonoscopy, they may feel that there is no benefit. If she has colorectal cancer, she's too weak to survive the treatment for it and would be best off just allowing the disease to prgress naturally; that's the way she'd suffer the least if that were the case. The other reason to do a colonoscopy is to remove polyps before they become cancerous. In her case, she isn't likely to live long enough for cancer to develop.

    So, there's no benefit to the colonoscopy, but the risks would still be there.

    • Commenter avatarLog in to reply to the answers
  • 9 months ago

    No one can make diagnoses through internet, so we don't know the whole picture here.

    There are tons of reasons of why your friend's doctor doesn't think the surgery is an option for her. For starters, she's already fibrillating, which is a risk under anesthesia, she might code on the table.

    Colonoscopies are also quite risky procedures in people her age. Colonoscopies can cause severe dehydration even if you are hospitalised, as well as causing tachycardia, which in her current heart condition could kill her.

    Every doctor considers pros and cons for each patient. If your friend has doubts she should talk to her doctor about them.

    Source(s): I'm a RD
    • Commenter avatarLog in to reply to the answers
  • What do you think of the answers? You can sign in to give your opinion on the answer.
  • 9 months ago

    No one can guess the motive of another person. The doctor may think that at her age the procedure is more dangerous then the illness. The operation may be more likely to kill her then living with the pain from the knee. (My father was lost that way when he decided against his doctor's advise to have a surgery and did not survive it.)

    It may also be that the rest of her bones are so brittle that doing a knee replacement would we worthless. It would just break loose and leave her in worst pain.

    None of us can examine her (or have the medical know how if we could) to see why he made those deicisions.

    If you are unhappy with the decisions, take her to another doctor for a second opinion or sit your current doctor down and make him explain the reasons for his decision.

    It could be that he just had a thing against old people. That is possible. But it is also likely that he has solid medical reasons for not wanting to do the procedures. He age may will be one of those reasons.

    But I am not aware of any medical practice or hospital that stops treatment based only on a person's age. That would be a mjor law suite waiting to happen.

    • Commenter avatarLog in to reply to the answers
  • 9 months ago

    I'd get another doctor. We don't have death panels yet.

    • Commenter avatarLog in to reply to the answers
  • Anonymous
    9 months ago

    If you are in U.K. this should be challenged because age should not stop a person receiving the help they need unless surgery would kill the patient. If in America then it will always depend on whether or not the patient has funding.

    • brother_in_magic
      Lv 7
      9 months agoReport

      There isn't a limit in the UK, but most doctors wouldn't subject an 86 year old to surgery unless its benefits outweighed the risks. They are not grubbing for the money regardless of potential outcome.

    • Commenter avatarLog in to reply to the answers
Still have questions? Get answers by asking now.