Originally published June 13 2015
AMA may force incompetent older doctors to retire even if they don't want to
by L.J. Devon, Staff Writer
(NaturalNews) The American Medical Association (AMA) is on the verge of purging older medical doctors from the already controlled medical marketplace. Medical doctors, who are licensed with the state, could soon face age discrimination and be forced into early retirement.
A new report by an American Medical Association council calls for aging physicians to go into early retirement if they cannot meet competency requirements. The new report is being brought to the AMA's 2015 policy-making meeting in Chicago. The report calls on younger doctors to evaluate and vote out their older colleagues who are showing signs of age. The reasoning behind it is that older doctors might be more likely to make mistakes that could put patients' lives in jeopardy.
While some hospitals like Stanford Health Care at Stanford University already require age-based screening for physicians, this state licensing requirement would take it a step further and force all aging physicians to take tests to see if they can perform their jobs safely. If they can't, they'd be forced to hang up the white coat for good.
AMA could potentially force 25 percent of U.S. physicians out of practiceThere are currently around 240,000 physicians aged 65 and older in the U.S. If the AMA does decide to force this group into early retirement, nearly one fourth of all the physicians in the U.S. would no longer be able to help patients. This would welcome a new flood of rookie physicians while undermining the knowledge of an experienced sector of physicians.
This new doctor-led effort to purge aging physicians out of practice is one of 250 resolutions to be voted on at the AMA's annual meeting. The council report reveals that elder physicians' colleagues would be in charge of monitoring their competency and calling older doctors into question. The council admitted that this "may head off a call for mandatory retirement ages or imposition of guidelines by others."
AMA focusing its energy in all the wrong places?The state licensing assessment would look at changes in a physician's hearing, vision, memory, and motor skills. Experts argue that these normal age-related changes don't always elicit worse outcomes for patients.
Perhaps the AMA is looking in the wrong place as they try to improve patient outcomes. Maybe the AMA should focus on the education of new physicians, starting in medical school. Some of the most important aspects of health, like avoiding environmental toxins and chemicals and optimizing cellular nutrition, are hardly even taught in medical school. Moreover, how can elder physicians impart decades worth of experience and acquired knowledge to their younger colleagues?
Older physicians don't agree with new AMA power grab The AMA's cracking down on elder physicians has some in an uproar. An 89-year-old pediatrician, genetics researcher and active tennis player, Dr. William Nyhan of the University of California San Diego says, "I don't myself have any doubts about my competency and I don't need the AMA or anybody else to test me."
"There are a lot of people overlooking my activities" already, he said. "This is a litigious society - if we were making mistakes, we'd be sued."
Dr. Jack Lewis of Omaha, Nebraska, who has been an internal medicine specialist for 50 years, feels that he doesn't need his colleagues deciding when he should hang up the white coat. "If I made a mistake, I'd be the first one to quit here," says Dr. Lewis, who just turned 81 this week.
"My dad always told me to watch to see if he was making mistakes or losing it, and my son is watching me the same way," Lewis said. He admits his "hands aren't as good as they used to be" but he doesn't want the state forcing him to leave the work he loves.
Dr. Ann Weinacker, a Stanford quality improvement specialist, says the policy at Stanford for physicians over the age of 75 requires a comprehensive medical history and physical exam and a performance evaluation every two years. "It is not a pass-fail type of screening. However, if concerns are raised, we require the person to have further evaluation," she said.
While most physicians concur that competency assessment is important where they work, they don't want to be forced into early retirement based on controlling AMA age bias and sweeping new regulations dictated by a select few.
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