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Aging doctor population a growing concern

Oregon patients need to be able to trust their doctors, but with the age of many M.D.s on the rise, some believe the only way to prevent harm to patients is through testing.

As the Chicago Tribune reports, nearly a quarter of doctors in the United States are 65 or older. While some hospitals have their own systems in place for measuring the ability of doctors of a certain age, there is not a standard in place by which all doctors must abide. In fact, a report from the American Medical Association in 2015 stated that doctors should lead the charge in creating the procedure to ensure that those treating patients remain competent and able to do their jobs effectively. This report notes that if doctors do not come up with a standard then they may have to abide by rules imposed by the outside at a later date. And indeed, other professions do have mandated retirement ages, such as airline pilots and some in the military.

Reuters reports that in the two years that have passed no regulations have been created, but another call for these standards was made recently in JAMA Surgery. In fact, the debate on testing has lasted at least 20 years without official action being taken. This is increasingly important as some studies have linked patient death in cardiovascular surgeries with an elevated age of the surgeon. While there are studies that say a less experienced doctor may not be better, there is no doubt that age does affect cognition in both the general population and those in the medical profession.