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    Should aging doctors be tested for competency?

    There has been growing concern within the medical industry that senior physicians can negatively impact patient care.

    The American Medical Association (AMA) recently voted to acknowledge this possibility by unanimously adopting a plan to evaluate senior healthcare providers’ on-the-job effectiveness.

    The plan is of particular interest to ophthalmologists, since the mean age of ophthalmic physicians is 54 years old, according to a 2013 American Academy of Ophthalmology membership survey.

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    The AMA plan—proposed by the association’s Council on Medical Education—will give guidance to state medical boards about the maintenance of licensure process, and preliminary assessment recommendations will be developed.

    Additionally, the plan emphasized that testing should include a review of the physician’s physical and mental health, as well as treatment of patients.

    While some hospitals in the United States already require age-based screenings, there is no national policy to ensure older physicians are still practicing safely.

    “Physicians should be allowed to remain in practice as long as patient safety is not endangered,” the AMA plan said. “Unfortunate outcomes may trigger an evaluation at any age, but perhaps periodic reevaluation after a certain age . . . when incidence of declines is known to increase, may be appropriate.”

    Nevertheless, the AMA plan did note that no direct link between age and patient safety has been established. Further, the plan added that the move to create better guidelines could “head off a call for mandatory retirement ages or imposition of guidelines by others.”

     

    Next: Ophthalmologists speak out

     

    Photo credit:  ©racorn/Shutterstock.com

    joseph-rose-cuyahoga-engagement-photographer-065.jpg
    Rose Schneider Krivich
    Rose is the content specialist for Medical Economics.

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    7 Comments

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    • I consider it to be good practice. Even doctors sometimes are too proud/ stubborn to admit they have some health issues because of age or may don’t know about them. Age influences all people even those who used to fight with time to win more of it for patients. Also as has been stated at acewriters/how-to-write-a-journal-paper-1460064802.html there is another aspect: doctors should be able to use the most recent modern technologies to have all tools to save lives.
    • Dr. Frank Weinstock
      Don't know why there were 4 comments- only one was submitted--sorry.
    • Dr. Frank Weinstock
      It would be a good idea. In or hospital there was a requirement to observe new surgeons for several cases. As physicians age, that would also be good policy. Someone should monitor complications and readmissions- however, with outpatient surgery that is more difficult. In the past surgeons with problems would operate on their patients with complications at other facilities. In groups, this observation should bd put into original contracts and should be followed. The best ones to know are the nurses. However, there should be some continuing chart review by partners. An indication of problems may be picked up when another member in a group, or another ophthalmologist, sees the patient when the original ophthalmologist is away and the problems show up. Besides being a protection for patients, this may decrease liability for the group. With more hospitals hiring surgeons this potential problem could be handled more easily.
    • Dr. Frank Weinstock
      It would be a good idea. In or hospital there was a requirement to observe new surgeons for several cases. As physicians age, that would also be good policy. Someone should monitor complications and readmissions- however, with outpatient surgery that is more difficult. In the past surgeons with problems would operate on their patients with complications at other facilities. In groups, this observation should bd put into original contracts and should be followed. The best ones to know are the nurses. However, there should be some continuing chart review by partners. An indication of problems may be picked up when another member in a group, or another ophthalmologist, sees the patient when the original ophthalmologist is away and the problems show up. Besides being a protection for patients, this may decrease liability for the group. With more hospitals hiring surgeons this potential problem could be handled more easily.
    • Dr. Frank Weinstock
      It would be a good idea. In or hospital there was a requirement to observe new surgeons for several cases. As physicians age, that would also be good policy. Someone should monitor complications and readmissions- however, with outpatient surgery that is more difficult. In the past surgeons with problems would operate on their patients with complications at other facilities. In groups, this observation should bd put into original contracts and should be followed. The best ones to know are the nurses. However, there should be some continuing chart review by partners. An indication of problems may be picked up when another member in a group, or another ophthalmologist, sees the patient when the original ophthalmologist is away and the problems show up. Besides being a protection for patients, this may decrease liability for the group. With more hospitals hiring surgeons this potential problem could be handled more easily.
    • Dr. Frank Weinstock
      It would be a good idea. In or hospital there was a requirement to observe new surgeons for several cases. As physicians age, that would also be good policy. Someone should monitor complications and readmissions- however, with outpatient surgery that is more difficult. In the past surgeons with problems would operate on their patients with complications at other facilities. In groups, this observation should bd put into original contracts and should be followed. The best ones to know are the nurses. However, there should be some continuing chart review by partners. An indication of problems may be picked up when another member in a group, or another ophthalmologist, sees the patient when the original ophthalmologist is away and the problems show up. Besides being a protection for patients, this may decrease liability for the group. With more hospitals hiring surgeons this potential problem could be handled more easily.
    • Dr. Frank Weinstock
      It would be a good idea. In or hospital there was a requirement to observe new surgeons for several cases. As physicians age, that would also be good policy. Someone should monitor complications and readmissions- however, with outpatient surgery that is more difficult. In the past surgeons with problems would operate on their patients with complications at other facilities. In groups, this observation should bd put into original contracts and should be followed. The best ones to know are the nurses. However, there should be some continuing chart review by partners. An indication of problems may be picked up when another member in a group, or another ophthalmologist, sees the patient when the original ophthalmologist is away and the problems show up. Besides being a protection for patients, this may decrease liability for the group. With more hospitals hiring surgeons this potential problem could be handled more easily.

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