"The Clock Ticks": New York Times Looks at the Debate over Assessing Aging Physicians

February 13, 2019 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​The debate over how to assess the competence of aging physicians was covered in a February 1, 2019, article in the New York Times. Almost one-quarter of practicing physicians in 2015 were older than 65, the author said. Since aging often brings declining vision, hearing, and cognition, many are wondering, what "if anything" should be done about aging practitioners. Several studies were presented in the article, showing both sides of the debate and underlining that there is no easy answer. It is possible, the author said, that older physicians' "decades of experience and judgment can compensate for modest physical or cognitive declines." One study cited by the author demonstrated that surgeons older than 60 showed higher mortality rates for certain operations, including coronary bypass, but not for others. Additionally, the author said, the differences occurred with complex surgical procedures, mostly among doctors who did not perform many operations. Potential solutions vary.

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