American Medical Association (AMA) Proposes Competency Tests for Aging Doctors

With one out of four U.S. doctors older than 65, the AMA adopted a plan Monday to help decide when it’s time for aging senior physicians to hang up the stethoscope. The nation’s largest organization of doctors agreed to spearhead an effort to create competency guidelines for assessing whether older physicians remain able to provide safe and effective care for patients. Doctors have no mandatory retirement age, unlike pilots, military personnel and a few other professions where mistakes can be deadly. All doctors must meet state licensing requirements, and some hospitals require age-based screening. But there are no national mandates or guidelines on how to make sure older physicians can still do their jobs safely. The AMA agrees it’s time to change that. The plan it adopted is outlined in a report by one of its councils, which notes that the number of U.S. physicians aged 65 and older has quadrupled since 1975 and now numbers 240,000. In a vote without debate, the AMA agreed to convene groups to collaborate in developing preliminary assessment guidelines, as recommended in the report. The report says testing should include an evaluation of physical and mental health and a review of doctors’ treatment of patients. It doesn’t specify who would do the assessing nor how often it would take place.

Source/more: Minneapolis Star-Tribune

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