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Are cognitive exams for older physicians discriminatory?

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With nearly 15% of the physician workforce over the age of 64, a growing number of hospitals and health systems have started requiring physicians to undergo cognitive and physical exams when they reach a certain age, leading many to question whether this constitutes age-based discrimination, according to an article published on Medscape.

In 2018, a doctor at Yale New Haven Hospital filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission because the hospital system requires employees to undergo cognitive and eye exams to keep hospital privileges after age 70, a policy they implemented in 2016 due to potential concerns regarding older clinicians’ abilities, according to the article.

Todd K. Rosengart, chair of the surgery department at Baylor College of Medicine, told Medscape that not all physicians will recognize when they need to stop practicing and many won’t report colleagues who may need to stop. In fact, the Society of Surgical Chairs, has recommended mandatory testing of all surgeons by the age of 65.

Those against age-based testing argue that these types of policies would single out physicians because on the their age, and that younger clinicians can have cognitive declines as well. Herbert Rakatansky, who chairs a committee overseeing the Rhode Island Medical Society physician health program, told Medscape that a doctor’s cognitive ability doesn’t always reflect their proficiency in practice.

Read the full article here.

Reference

Butcher L. Did hospital administrators impede a racial profiling investigation? Medscape. Accessed: Jun 25, 2020. Available at:https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/932960#vp_3

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