Unethical relatives

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by gcvmom, Jan 1, 2009.

  1. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I learned this week that my dad, who undoubtedly has an undx'd personality disorder, has been secretly taping his doctor appointments over the years. As far as I know, this is illegal in our state which requires consent by all parties involved in the communication.

    He says he does this to help him remember things, but also to prove when the doctor screws up. When I asked him to whom he was thinking of presenting this "proof" (because now he's convinced his latest hospitalization is entirely the fault of one doctor and he's also accusing him privately of falsifying his medical records). At this simple question, my dad became very defensive and irate and proceeded to argue and justify ad nauseum.

    Finally, he concluded that he wasn't planning to sue anyone, just prove to anyone who doubted his own word that he is right.

    Yes, this man is suffering from distorted and paranoid thinking.

    So what do you do when someone you know is violating the law like this? Let karma do its thing and wait for natural consequences to fall out from this (if ever)?

    On another even more upsetting note, in this same conversation he also told me that it took a variety of doctors he consulted over 8 years to diagnose his bladder cancer (only one doctor got it right). He insists that the typical patient for this type of cancer has four years from onset of symptoms until they are dead. Fortunately, his must not have been a very aggressive form, because he's still here (and when I pointed that out, he dismissed it).

    What really disturbed me was his statement that had his cancer been found to be terminal, he would not have hesitated to seek out each and every doctor that missed his diagnosis and put a bullet in them. He was dead serious, and very agitated as he told me this.

    What someone says they WOULD have done versus what they INTEND to do are very different things, but this is still very disturbing to me to hear him say. Another example of his distorted reality.

    I asked my mother to please, please, please ensure that his guns and ammo are safely out of reach (as he is very ill with respiratory and heart failure, that shouldn't be too hard to do).

    So do I just sit back and continue to keep myself and my family distanced from this person who happened to father me? I'm more concerned about harming my mother if I were to report any of this to authorities.
  2. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Hmmmmmm. I see this from both sides. Being someone in the medical profession I surely wouldn't like someone taping me. But I've also had doctors tell me things in detail only to deny it completely on the next visit. So I can understand his frustration with that. And yes, I've had them not believe me until I've forced them to go into the records and find what I'm talking about.

    Is this patterned behavior, or is this aggitation more recent? May be that he's angry and frustrated at the whole system...docs, nurses, treatment, ect. And this is his way of dealing with it.

    I'd like to say that all docs and nurses take patients at their word, listen attentively, and look to see if what the patient is telling them is correct in the records. I'd like to say that, but sadly I can't. And with the elderly it's even worse. They are assumed to be "forgetful" or unable to hear, maybe even understand what is being told to them. So docs and nurses may take what they have to say with a grain of salt. I've had to defend many an elderly patient over the years.

    I understand you're concern. I'd be concerned too. But I can tell you my mother in law who has the patience of a saint has been known to unleash her wrath on her fam doctor when he decides to poo poo on her wishes ect. And it's not pretty. And she'll stay worked up until we can prove to her the situation has been taken care of. (and I swear she shocks him a few years off his life every time she does it too)

    Would your Dad feel more assured if you were to go along with him to doctor visits? Or another family member he can trust? Someone who can help explain what the doctor says and who he knows will stand up for him if necessary?

    I dunno about his past or the personality disorder. But your post reminded me of the many many elderly I've cared for.........your Dad sounds scared to me.

    Now when my step dad was so ill, and it began to distort his personality (and he didn't have such a great one to begin with) I worried about him being around the kids. But oddly enough.....he never really acted that way around them. Of ocurse we also lived 2 states away and he didn't get to see them but a couple of times during his illness.

    As for the tape recorder........I wouldn't say a word. Odds are he's not going to sue. And he's in no physical shape to harm anyone. But just in case.....might have Mom sell the guns and ammo.

  3. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am so sorry. This must be very scary.

    I would contact a gunsmith about trigger-locks and then have a trusted family member take the guns off site for storage. The statement that he would shoot each doctor who didn't catch the problem would be a hugely frightening thing, in my opinion. This needs to be brought up to his GP (even if you have to schedule a separate appointment with the GP - ask him to listen, and let the doctor know that you know he can't release info (unless you can get a HIPPA waiver signed by your dad). Or you could send a letter certified, return receipt requested.

    Your dad is showing some very scary behaviors, and it may be time to get some in-home help for your mom, esp if you are afraid of her safety.

    Gentle, gentle hugs.
  4. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Lisa, he has ALWAYS been a paranoid, suspicious and distrustful person. He has a security camera pointed at his front door, his side gate and his back door. It's all wired to his livingroom TV and computer so he can see whoever is out there. And he RECORDS the feeds as well.

    He has changed doctors more times than I can count, usually because he is put off by something they said, their tone, their inability to answer a question to his satisfaction, the way they looked at him or some other perceived slight. I'm all for changing doctors if it's not the right fit, but he takes this to the extreme and for the most ridiculous reasons. He is also confrontational with doctors and downright rude at times. He's had a few refuse to see him anymore because of his behavior. I don't think it's a matter of him being a cranky old guy -- he's a s.o.b. control freak with major anxiety and distorted views of the world, and always has been.

    When I lived at home, if someone parked too close to his car, he would talk about taking a key to their paint job or slashing their tires. I've never seen him do it, but he talks a big talk when he's upset about something he thinks someone had done to him. And it's always the other guy's fault.

    He has no friends. I can think of only two people in the last 40 years that he considered a friend. One is deceased 30 years now, and the other moved away 20 years ago and he does not make any effort to stay in touch.

    He was diagnosed agoraphobic by a psychologist when I was in elementary school. He rarely left the house except for work or to occasionally go to some familiar place.

    He has been a verbally abusive person to my mother all my life, and to me when I lived at home. He rejects that anything is wrong with him psychologically. My mother once took him to see a marriage counselor and he did not like what he heard so he vowed never to go back.

    I limit the amount of time my kids are around him because he has no discretion with the things he says. He makes racial slurs and jokes regardless of who's in the room. His sister in law is from Vietnam, yet I recall a number of times he made crude racial jokes about Asians as if she wasn't even in the room, nevermind the fact that my KIDS were in the room. I remember sternly reminding him there were children in the room and he just giggled and said "oops", clearly not getting the insult he was causing.

    Anyway, I guess my dilemma is in my discomfort in knowing he is not stable in many ways and not being sure what I should or even could do about it.

    Susie, I talk to my mom frankly and frequently about the situation there, and I know she will do what she can to keep herself safe. She realizes that in his current ill health he is in no position to do much, but she also does not let down her guard. I think she feels obligated to see that his health needs are met, but that's about as far as it goes. She's already thinking ahead to the day where she cannot provide for his care and what to do about that. She did let his current internist know that he has history of serious anxiety, and this doctor has taken great care to treat my dad with kid gloves. And my dad is responding well to this new doctor. It's one of the first I've heard him speak well of in a while. But the second this guy is perceived to have made a mistake or withheld information and he will be on my dad's sh*t list, so to speak -- I guarantee it.

    Perhaps my mom can share a bit more with the doctor since she goes to appointments with my dad now since he can't drive. I will encourage her to be as frank as possible with the internist about his mental stability. And it would be easy enough for her to just see him on her own. I did that myself when I was concerned about problems my husband was having that he would not admit to anyone.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Me and my son have been screwed over so badly by so many mental health care professionals, I can relate to your father...lol. I wish I have a taping of my son's psychiatrist telling us, "He can't be on the autism spectrum. After all, he can go from one room to another room without raging." Oh, how sweet to be able to prove he said it other than wondering if people REALLY believe such a well-thought-of doctor could make that type of misstatment and show that little knowledge of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Haha.
    I would just let it go. On the "unethical" scale, I would rate this one very low. Sounds like he has other issues that are far more upsetting. But he's a grown man and there is nothing you CAN do about it. JMO
  6. Fran

    Fran Former Site Owner

    His thinking is distorted. I doubt anything can help that at this point.
    I understand his anger at not being diagnosed the first time but the fact that several doctors missed it means that it was probably not a clear case. They are scientists and not infalliable.

    If he wanted to tape info, telling the person's in the room ahead of time would alleviate any suspicions.

    I agree that women and elderly tend to be dismissed in their concerns. I'm sure there are enough reasons on both sides to find fault. Patients lie, omit information and forget stuff. I have seen it and I certainly omit what I don't think is relevant. Doctors have a hard time saying "I'm sorry. I missed it or I was wrong". Lots of opportunity for mistakes.

    Keeping everyone safe including dad is your first priority. Fixing his personality disorder or punishing him for his distorted thinking isn't something you can do.
  7. maril

    maril New Member

    So, sounds like this new doctor is a positive for your dad and that your dad has a good support system, including your mom and you? That said, I recognize the circumstances still are very difficult. My dad had given my mom such a very hard time for years, especially after his stroke 17 years ago; she did the best she could for him, had the fortunate added ability of being an RN, but even with all help and support in place, my dad still was sometimes resistant to treatment and could be combative (physical illness in addition to mental illness that peaked after his stroke). Many people who knew my dad could not understand his behavior and basically backed away; there were a few close friends who hung in there. It was sad. I might add that my mom had supportive kids with supportive spouses, so that had helped. My dad passed last February; fortunately, we all got to see and talk to him the night he passed and in my heart, I think that made a difference; gave him some measure of peace.

    I am sending you hugs and reassurance - you are a positive influence. Continue to keep the lines of communication open as you are doing. Your strength surely is a big help to your mom.

    As far as the medical profession goes: First, I have much respect for many professionals; however, (having experienced both sides of the coin, patient-wise and employee-wise), I have come to the conclusion that as a patient, it is very important to be proactive and educated. In addition, there are times when patients do need an advocate. It is a fast moving world out there ... time is money in the medical profession. That is the (sometimes sad) bottom line.
  8. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    That puts a whole different spin on it. doctor does need to be informed of your Dad's mental statis. I'd imagine he's already picked up on it to some degree since he's been treating him cautiously.

    Sounds like a similar situation as my Mom had with step dad. I feel for your mother. I spent many a hour on the phone with mine trying to support her as best I could from so far away. My Mom never had my step dad declared mentally incompetent. A huge mistake in the end. As by the time he passed his paranoia and such was so severe he had messed up the will and all of their money. Took her 2 years and 4 lawyers to get it straightened out.

  9. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    Paranoia of the sort you describe can and does translate into violence when the person feels too threatened or angry. I think that taking steps to remove all weapons from your Dad's environment, plus letting his doctor(s) know the extent of his paranoia and threats would be the right thing to do. He may just be a big talker but one of these days he'll have a terminal condition, and that could be his trigger. The health professionals who work with him have a right to know if he has homicidal ideation toward them.

    I know many patients have frustration with doctors and the medical system but let me just say it cuts both ways, in spades.
  10. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I am so sorry, GcvMom. I kind of remember reading something about this b4, maybe here on the Watercooler.
    I like Daisylover's idea of someone going with him to the Dr. Would there be a way to convince him with-o making him more paranoid?
    I've got my fingers crossed about the new dr. Your dad does need a dr for his illnesses and he's not doing himself any favors by dismissing one after the other. But of course, he can't see that.
    I agree with-the others here, that you cannot do anything about his mental illness. Just work on keeping your mom safe, and making sure the guns are not loaded and are not handy.
    Gosh, what a load you have on your shoulders. {{hugs}}
  11. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Thank you everyone for your responses and kind words. It is such a relief to be able to talk about these things with people who understand mental illness.

    I'll continue to support my mom and advise her on how to keep his doctors informed. It is a relief that his current doctor is so sensitive to my dad's anxiety. He did assure him that he would take care of him and that he was only a phone call away at any time. My mom said that shocked my dad and she could see him physically relax when he heard that. Hopefully nothing happens to shake my dad's fragile trust -- it won't take much in my opinion. He's constantly vigilant for people to slip up and give him a reason to cross them off his list.

    My mom is now concerned about protecting their assets as his health deteriorates. I'm going to suggest she talk to a lawyer about all that... issues of competency, etc. My dad would never willingly relinquish control over anything -- mom doesn't even have access to his bank account info, his pension info, nothing. He doesn't even trust her after 46 years. Now he's talking about selling their home and moving into a retirement community. She absolutely does NOT want that.
  12. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    He did assure him that he would take care of him and that he was only a phone call away at any time. My mom said that shocked my dad and she could see him physically relax when he heard that.

    THAT is AWESOME!!!

    You know, the salesperson at the retirement community would be excited to make a sale, but there may be an interview with-a nurse. And the director. Theses people have been around the block a few times and they may not want your dad on the "regular" floor. on the other hand, it may be the best thing for him.

    Good thing your mom is talking to a lawyer. Sigh. Poor lady.
  13. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Gosh, Terry -- it never occured to me that a retirement home would reject him! :p But it certainly makes sense that they don't want a wacko troublemaker coming in there and disrupting things for everyone.

    Frankly, I can't see him in one of those places at all. He wouldn't be able to "hide" from everyone like he does in his house now. Maybe he's really thinking of a condo in a senior-only complex. Still, my mom likes her house and and her lifestyle and she's not about to slow down for him. He has never been much of a participant in her life -- and thank goodness she had sense enough to forge on ahead despite his problems. She has a very wide circle of friends, several hobbies and many interests. He has her, his computer room, and that's it. Ugh.
  14. Jena

    Jena New Member

    gcv mom i am so sorry i missed this one.

    I'm sorry to hear of what is going on with your dad and the uncomfortable feeling that it gives you and confusion of not knowing what to do if anything at all.

    I just wanted to offer some support to you. The others have given so much helpful information and a different perspective on things for you.

  15. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Thanks Jen :)