Older Physicians and Safety
The debate between the physician leaders was that a routine physical would not pick up subtle cognitive decline that might affect decision making. Annual physical exams generally do not test dexterity or judgment and would find only the most blatant physical deficits. Should we expect all older physicians to undergo expensive and time-consuming psychological and cognitive tests? Is there a way to test function under stress? These questions remain unanswered.
We are truly entering a time of more public scrutiny and better self-policing by physicians. The fact that we are having these discussions within the organized medical staff is great. We already have policies in place that address medical error and the disruptive physician and our increasingly aging medical staff is next for review.