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NBME 24 Answers
An 83-year-old woman is brought to the physician by ...
Discussion of the diagnosis with the patient privately
83 might seem an uncommon age, but we don't know for sure her sexual history. She only recently (8 months ago) started showing some signs of mild cognitive impairment. She has all these results implying that she has syphilis, so the most likely answer is that she has syphilis, so we should speak to her privately about her sexual history. The tests don't necessarily means she got syphilis very recently, it's possible she's had syphilis for a while and never got treated.
I understand that she could possibly have syphilis but I also put repeat tests because I know there are a few things that can cause false positive VRDLs but if she also has a + RPR does this make a FP less likely? And also if she has mild cognitive impairment you still discuss with her not her daughter correct ...?
This definitely could be a false positive, but before we want to consider it to be a false positive, we should talk to the patient about it privately. Assuming that it's a false positive before asking the patient about it could delay treatment of her syphilis. There's a chance she didn't want to disclose her sexual history in front of her daughter or maybe she was embarrassed or didn't think it was important to mention.
And you're absolutely right, she only has mild cognitive impairment, so we most definitely should talk to the patient alone without her daughter first.
She has dementia. She doesn't have the capacity to determine her own care (23/20 MME). I feel the daughter should have the word on the care since Grandma likely doesn't have the capacity to understand her actions.
From what I remember, dementia is typically a combination of impaired memory *and* impaired thought processes. There is nothing to indicate that the patient has impaired thought processes, and the memory impairment is only mild. The patient can still reasonably said to be competent, and so her private information should be discussed with her alone.
Elder care homes or elderly communities actually have a high rate of STDs. Turns out, when you put a bunch of divorced/widowed adults together in a community they have sex.
Additionally, you should respect the privacy of a competent adult with "Mild memory" impairment. I know I could have mild memory impairment considering the crap I forget studying for step 1