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Physicians Get To Choose Their Patients

In response to a GP advertisement for new patients in the local paper Edith Paulus, 59 years old called his office in Midhurst. // She was rejected because Dr. Derek Nesdoly, GP, would not take patients older than 45. She was shocked and never imagined she would be told she's too old to be accepted by a doctor.

After a two-year quest to find a family doctor in Barrie, she was rejected due to age discrimination. In response to this Nesdoly, who has practiced medicine in the Barrie area for 16 years, denies that he discriminates against older people.

He said that he had signed on new patients in their 80s and 90s. He also said that he was trying to help out some young families who don't have a doctor. Statistics Canada does not keep records of patient visits by age to doctors. According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, in the United States more than half of the patients visiting a doctor were older than 45.

In 2005, according to Statistics Canada's Community Health Survey only about 76.7 % of people in the 20-34 age groups had a family doctor. According to Kathryn Clarke, senior communications co-ordinator of the regulatory body the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario does not restrict a doctor's right to reject a new patient based on age.

Clarke said that physicians are free to choose patients who represent their special interests and skills, and can also reject new patients. But it is also a fact that refusing patients based on factors such as age and disability without a valid reason could violate the Ontario Human Rights Code's prohibitions on discrimination.

Nesdoly believes that individuals are responsible for their health and seeks patients willing to take personal responsibility for a healthy lifestyle. Barrie resident William Michalchuk, 51, got through to the interview with Nesdoly. He said that it was no problem. There is a form to be filled then a personal interview is conducted a nd then the doctor took me on as a new patient with no hesitation. Collingwood family doctor Harry O'Halloran, has been conducting informal patient interviews for more than 20 years, sees it as a way of forming a relationship with new patients.

Colquhoun said that the role of the family physician is changing and patients need to get used to that idea. But this does not offer a solution for Paulus and she has yet to find a doctor.


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