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AMA Discusses Pre-Retirement Evaluation for Aging Doctors

Physicians approved development of preliminary assessment guidelines at AMA meeting

MONDAY, June 29, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Issues relating to physician retirement and evaluation of aging physicians before retirement are discussed in a Council on Medical Education report published by the American Medical Association (AMA).

Noting that one in four physicians is older than 65 years, physicians examined the issue of when to leave practice, considering issues of safety and patient care.

According to the report, several factors associated with aging affect physicians’ analytical processes, including decreasing working memory and visual acuity and reduced speed of mental operations. Older physicians are also less likely to acquire new knowledge and incorporate new treatment strategies into practices. Physicians are obligated to continually examine their physical and mental health, although there is no national standard for screening physicians at a specific age. While some physicians are happy to move into retirement, others find it challenging and need guidance and support from peers. For physicians who want to slow down, use of simplified documentation forms, decreased caseload or time demands, and narrowing the scope of practice can be beneficial. At the 2015 AMA Annual Meeting, physicians approved development of preliminary assessment guidelines to ensure physicians can practice at long as patient safety is not at risk.

“Formal guidelines on the timing and content of testing of competence may be appropriate and may head off a call for mandatory retirement ages or imposition of guidelines by others,” according to the report.

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