Are Older Doctors More Likely To Commit Medical Mistakes?
The American Medical Association (AMA) recently met in Chicago for its annual policy-making meeting, where it discussed whether aging doctors should be given competency tests. Discussion about testing comes at a time when there are more than 240,000 physicians over the age of 65, about one-fourth of all doctors.
Unlike other professions, such as piloting commercial aircraft, doctors do not have a mandatory retirement age. Like doctors, pilots regularly put the lives of other people in their hands. There are no existing guidelines to ensure doctors can perform their duties at old age and avoid medical mistakes. Age-related physical changes such as hearing, vision, memory and motor skills might affect job performance, but no evidence exists that it endangers patients.
The AMA wants to develop standards to assess competency and ensure patient safety. However, U.S. hospitals are already required to evaluate the performance of physicians regardless of age. Some hospitals already carry out performance reviews of older doctors.
For example, Stanford requires an assessment every two years for physicians aged 75 and older. The University of Virginia screens doctors every two years as well, but according to the school, most elderly doctors have satisfactory performance.
What Options Are Available For People Affected By Medical Mistakes?
Regardless of age, all doctors have the duty of carig for the safety of patients. When a medical mistake is made, the age of a doctor may not be important. Why the mistake happened and the story of the injured or deceased patient is far more important.
Patients who are injured by health care professionals might have options for pursuing damages. Contacting a medical malpractice attorney can reveal what options are available.