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Driving ban for epileptics? Assessing patients' abilities

Date:
April 16, 2010
Source:
Deutsches Aerzteblatt International
Summary:
Physicians treating patients with epilepsy are in a difficult legal situation when they have to assess their patients' ability to drive.

Physicians treating patients with epilepsy are in a difficult legal situation when they have to assess their patients' ability to drive. In the current edition of the Deutsches Ärzteblatt International,  occupational physician Monika Gube and her coauthors describe the problems, using an individual case as an example.

Up to 800,000 patients in Germany suffer from manifest epilepsy and about five times as many people suffer an epileptic seizure once in their lives. Although the accident rate is not statistically higher for epileptics than for the average population, the physician has to decide between medical confidentiality and the risk of a traffic accident. There is no general obligation to notify the authorities, although the physician has the right to notify them if the patient is lacking in insight and wishes to continue to drive.

In the specific case, the 50-year old excavator operator had kept quiet about his epilepsy, as he was scared of losing his job. His driving presented a considerable risk, both to himself and to others, so that his driving license had to be withdrawn. If a physician fails to notify the authorities of a planned criminal act, this may have legal consequences for him, unless he makes a serious effort to prevent this act. As a consequence, the excavator operator lost his job. He now lives from an incapacity pension and suffers enormously from the loss of flexibility and social status.

The authors point out that there might have been other solutions if the problem had been discussed earlier.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Deutsches Aerzteblatt International. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gube, M; Ell, W; Schiefer, J; Kraus, T. Medicolegal Assessment of the Ability to Drive a Motor Vehicle in Persons With Epilepsy. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, 2010; 107 (13): 217-23 DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2010.0217

Cite This Page:

Deutsches Aerzteblatt International. "Driving ban for epileptics? Assessing patients' abilities." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100415130022.htm>.
Deutsches Aerzteblatt International. (2010, April 16). Driving ban for epileptics? Assessing patients' abilities. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100415130022.htm
Deutsches Aerzteblatt International. "Driving ban for epileptics? Assessing patients' abilities." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100415130022.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

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