HealthDay News –  A recent meeting has addressed whether national guidelines should be developed to assess the ability of aging physicians to continue practicing, according to a news release from the American Medical Association (AMA).   Issues discussed included the legal implications of screening physicians based on age as well as questions over how to interpret cognitive tests. 

Noting that the number of physicians aged 65 years and older has increased more than four-fold since 1975, reaching more than 241,000 in 2013, representatives from key physician, hospital, and patient safety organizations discussed the growing trend of assessing the competence of aging physicians.

Nearly three dozen representatives from physician, hospital, and patient safety organizations examined the evidence relating to physician assessment and competence. Discussion of issues and challenges relating to development of guidelines included legal implications of screening physicians based on age; variability of the effect of age on physician competence; uncertainty of how to interpret tests of cognitive or motor function in physicians; and confounding effects of other variables on competence and performance of physicians.

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“Self-regulation is an important aspect of medical professionalism, and helping colleagues recognize their declining skills is an important part of self-regulation,” according to a recent report from the AMA Council on Medical Education. “Therefore, physicians must develop guidelines/standards for monitoring and assessing both their own and their colleagues’ competency.”

“It is the opinion of the Council on Medical Education that physicians should be allowed to remain in practice as long as patient safety is not endangered and that, if needed, remediation should be a supportive, ongoing and proactive process,” the report further stated.


Amy Farouk. Key stakeholders explore assessment of aging physicians. AMA Wire.  Published on March 22, 2016, Accessed on April 3, 2016. Source code.