The aging U.S. doctor population raises patient safety concerns, say experts on geriatric psychiatry, neuropsychology and physician assessment. However, no one agrees with the idea of mandating physician retirement at a certain age as many physicians continue to deliver excellent care well into their golden years.
Physicians, like everyone, are at risk for a broad range of medical problems as they grow older. Sometimes these issues are evident. Other times, mild decline in cognitive function can be difficult to spot, among other more subtle medical issues.
While there’s a potential impairment that’s not caused anyone harm, the solution too often is to turn the other way and hope nothing bad happens,” said Dr. Burroughs, a former emergency department medical director.
These issues also pose as potential risks for physician groups and hospital credentialing committees. One in five licensed U.S. doctors is older than 65 and many of those doctors continue to practice and delay their retirement. 52% of physician said they changed their retirement plans, and a third of these physicians planned to work park-time or locum tenens.