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Date: 05 Oct 2012

Physician warnings over fitness to drive improve road safety

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medwireNews: Physician warnings to patients who are potentially unfit to drive may lead to substantial reductions in road crash trauma, report Canadian researchers.

But such warnings may also be linked to the exacerbation of mood disorders and worsening doctor-patient relationships, say Donald Redelmeier, from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, in Toronto, Ontario, and co-authors.

Noting that patients often overestimate their driving skills and fail to take protective actions, the team writes in The New England Journal of Medicine: “Our findings thus pose an ethical conflict for clinicians who seek to optimize patients’ health yet respect their preferences…

“Consequently, clinical judgment is needed in deciding which patients are most likely to benefit from a warning.

The researchers examined the records of 100,075 patients who received a medical warning for being potentially unfit to drive from 6098 physicians between 2006, when an incentive to provide warnings was introduced, and 2009. D