In assessment of aging physicians, the profession should do the testing

LETTER — Posted Oct. 29, 2012

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Regarding: “Physician quality: What’s age got to do with it?” (Article, July 30):

I am now 72 years old, still see patients and get joy out of seeing little kids every day. I am a pediatric hematologist/oncologist. It is a biological fact that our cognitive function deteriorates with age. People in their 40s on average have much better memory than people in their 70s, and thus, I believe it is reasonable to recommend some type of fitness test for physicians beyond a certain age. The goal is to serve our patients right, and nothing else matters.

It would be better if we start this within the medical profession rather than having it forced externally, such as the current resident duty hours. If we have a right test which everyone agrees on reflecting competency, physicians would be the first to stop practicing once they know that they are no longer giving quality medicine to patients.

Susumu Inoue, MD, Flint, Mich.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2012/10/29/edlt1029.htm.

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