Poll: Should Older MDs be Required to take Fitness-for-Duty Exams?

July 31, 2012

With 20% of U.S. MDs older than age 65, there is increasing concern about how to monitor and manage the potential for cognitive decline in physicians. Is an annual fitness-for-duty exam for older doctors a good idea?

With 20% of U.S. MDs older than age 65, and more doctors saying that they plan to delay retirement, there is increasing concern about how to monitor and manage the potential for cognitive decline in physicians, according to an article from the American Medical Association. In addition to the fact that it takes people in their 70s twice as long as people in their 20s to process information, between 3% and 11% of older adults-including physicians-will develop dementia and early signs are often difficult to detect. Other causes for concern include hearing loss, macular degeneration, tremors, and stress-related decrease in concentration or attention.

Approximately 5% of hospitals have age-dependant policies in place for their medical staff, and some experts suggest requiring an annual fitness-for-duty exam for doctors over the age of 65 or 70. Do you think such a policy is a good idea?
 

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