Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Practice What Your Patient is Thinking

Losing my licence meant I lost my independence

BMJ 2020; 369 doi: (Published 04 June 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m1405

Rapid Response:

Re: Losing my licence meant I lost my independence; a misconceived assumption of failure to advice?

Dear Editor

The tone of this article [1] suggests an attempt to blame the treating doctors for their alleged failure to give advice regarding fitness to drive. The relevant DVLA advice which Dr Beerstecher has already cited [2], appears to be clear that certain provoked seizures including as a result of eclampsia are “excepted” and do not require driving to cease. Hence, rather than any deficiency of knowledge or failure to advice, the evidence indicates that the treating doctors in hospital have acted correctly when they did not raise the subject of informing DVLA. Further I understand, if one is dissatisfied with such decision of DVLA, then there is a right of appeal and that may well be a worthwhile option to consider rather than barking up the wrong tree.

This also raises the point whether a reasonably competent doctor, having suffered a seizure (irrespective of its cause), should have considered seeking advice from the DVLA rather than putting the entire onus on others who were treating her.

If there is anything that could be learnt from of this article, the main point seems to me, to get the facts right and do a reasonable degree of research before embarking on writing an article seemingly (unfairly) critical of those who were involved in making professional judgements. I note this article has not been externally peer-reviewed, thus arguable, had it gone through such scrutiny, it may not have met the threshold for publication. Finally, I disagree with the suggestion, “health professionals could have helped her better prepare for this lack of independence”[1], as the whole basis of this piece is on the misconceived assumption of failure to advice in an appropriate and timely manner .


Competing interests: No competing interests

06 June 2020
Jay Ilangaratne