Why don’t doctors screen more for frailty?

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  • Najmi Nazerali says:

    Great article! But how to move forward and change the situation, I wonder? I do believe successive cohorts of geriaricians/fam docs have tried over the years, even decades. Why do we fail, I wonder? I do wish you much more success! Thanks.

  • Cathy Clark says:

    Re:many of the rules based on scientific evidence that guide our practice in medicine don’t apply to frail seniors. And when we do apply these guidelines to frail patients, our treatment recommendations may cause them substantial harm.

    This is a very helpful analysis of the issues of the 85 and over population. But many many frail elderly do not involve their families in medical visits so there in no second pair of ears to help in decision making. Also most people in our society still believe that treatment of some kind is necessary, so it will take a very prolonged and creative educational campaign to clarify that the frail elderly don’t need meds for the symptoms of old age especially over the age of 85. Also, more analysis needs to be done on the impact of the pharmaceutical sector and the way that industry impacts on how doctors, patients and family members, tend to frame the “dilemma” of the symptoms of old age.

  • Moshe says:

    Making something a mandatory rotation doesn’t make it valued and won’t guarantee that people are doing it.

    Consider the “Walk-in” culture in family medicine, and how despite the over-exposure to psychiatry in medical training, very few family doctors properly screen for psychiatric disorders. It’s not because they don’t want to…

    The pressures of practicing primary care force those doctors to speed through patients like an assembly line. Assessing for frailty is a time-consuming endeavour despite its incredible importance.

    The real solution to increasing frailty screening is to value primary care more. It’s that simple.


Margaret McGregor


Margaret McGregor is a health policy researcher and clinical associate professor with the UBC Department of Family Practice.

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