Four of every ten physicians in America are age 65 or older, and 40% of those doctors are actively involved in patient care, according to the American Medical Association.
Concern over those older physicians’ mental states is prompting a growing number of healthcare facilities, from Stanford Health Care to the University of Virginia Health System, to adopt age-related physician policies in recent years.
The goal is to spot problems particularly signs of cognitive decline.
However as testing is becoming more common, there are growing questions about fairness, scientific validity and ageism.
Studies have found that, on average, knowledge declines over time, but it varies significantly among individual physicians, the AMA says.
One such study, published in the British Medical Journal, found within the same hospital, patients treated by older physicians (over 60) had higher mortality than patients cared for by younger physicians (under 40), except those physicians treating high volumes of patients.
However, the study’s senior author, Anupam Jena at Harvard Medical School, argues hospitals should be analyzing outcomes of all doctors, according to the WSJ.
Read some personal stories of older physicians at WSJ.com (subscription may be required).
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