Ensuring Competent Care by Senior Physicians.
The increasing number of senior physicians and calls for increased accountability of the medical profession by the public have led regulators and policymakers to consider implementing age-based competency screening. Some hospitals and health systems have initiated age-based screening, but there is no agreed upon assessment process. Licensing and certifying organizations generally do not require that senior physicians pass additional assessments of health, competency, or quality performance. Studies suggest that physician performance, on average, declines with increasing years in medical practice, but the effect of age on an individual physician's competence is highly variable. Many senior physicians practice effectively and should be allowed to remain in practice as long as quality and safety are not endangered. Stakeholders in the medical profession should consider the need to develop guidelines and methods for monitoring and/or screening to ensure that senior physicians provide safe and effective care for patients. Any screening process needs to achieve a balance between protecting patients from harm due to substandard practice, while at the same time ensuring fairness to physicians and avoiding unnecessary reductions in workforce.
Hawkins, RE; Welcher, CM; Stagg Elliott, V; Pieters, RS; Puscas, L; Wick, PH
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