It's been described as the most frequent error in medicine, and it's one that affects half of all patients who are 65 years and older. Only around 50 per cent of older patients get the specialist care and treatment that their family doctor had wanted them to have, a new study has discovered. Study author Michael Weiner described it as an "enormous problem", and there didn't seem to be any signs of it improving. He discovered that just 71 per cent of elderly patients ever get to be scheduled to be seen by the specialist that their doctor has requested - and just 70 per cent of those even went to the specialist's office. Sometimes the doctor forgets to make the appointment, sometimes an administrative error stops the appointment happening - and, in several cases, this was as basic as a fax machine having run out of paper. (Source: Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 2010; 16: 76-81).