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Ask Dr. Gott 7/6

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Posted: July 5, 2007 3:07 p.m.
Updated: July 20, 2007 5:00 a.m.
    DEAR DR. GOTT: I have a friend who is 84, as I am. She has a brain tumor and is in a nursing rehabilitation center. When I visited her the other day, I noted that her ID bracelet had the name of a doctor whom I did not recognize and was not the doctor she had for at least a decade. I asked an attendant if her doctor visited, and the answer was no, they don’t visit patients in the center.
    Later, I asked a physician friend the reason that physicians no longer see their patients if they are in a nursing home. His answer included a phrase suggesting that such patients are “warehoused.” Is this a universal practice? It seems so unfair that just because a patient is now in a home where he/she receives nursing care, the doctor no longer has any interest in the patient.
    DEAR READER: If a physician assumes the responsibility of caring for a patient in a skilled-nursing facility, he or she has an obligation to visit that patient on a regular basis. It is inappropriate (and bad medicine) to avoid that responsibility.
    I urge you to share your very valid concerns with the administration of the rehab facility and insist that your friend receive the necessary hands-on care to which she is entitled. Perhaps her previous physician should consider becoming involved in an attempt to short-circuit what appears to be “warehousing,” which is unfair and inappropriate.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report “Choosing a Physician.” Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I am writing to you in hopes that you can solve a family problem.
My mother, who is 74, uses freezer bags and plastic bags over and over. She stores frozen meats such as pork, hamburger and steaks and then washes the bags out to use again. As if that isn’t bad enough, she dries them upside down on her old broom handle that is stored over the garbage can. She also reuses bags that she stored salads and other foods in. While this isn’t a medical problem per se, I think it can be a serious health risk, especially to the older population with other ailments. I feel she can get food poisoning. In fact, she has had E. coli twice in the past year. I think this can be attributed to her unsanitary food storage, though it was never mentioned as a cause.
    I have bought her boxes of freezer and storage bags to use fresh so that she wouldn’t reuse the previous bags. She still does. She doesn’t have to be overly frugal; my parents have enough money to afford new bags. I feel it is a bad, unsafe habit.
    DEAR READER: Plastic storage bags should be discarded after one use. They should not be washed and dried repeatedly because of the possibility of bacterial contamination. You are correct. I share your concerns. Show your mother my response and encourage her to alter her practice.
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