There is evidence that younger and inexperienced physicians can make mistakes because of distractions. However, older doctors can also make mistakes due to poor health, posing a risk to patients. With the population aging throughout the United States, aging physicians is a nationwide issue. There is not a mandatory retirement age or regular health screenings for doctors, as there are in other professions. Patient safety experts and hospital administrators have been trying to find ways to ensure that older physicians are still able to treat patients competently.
Physicians are people and as such they are affected by aging as much as anyone else. There are an estimated 8,000 physicians who are suffering from dementia. About a third of physicians do not have a personal physician to watch for deteriorating health or signs of dementia. This is concerning given that there are not any formal evaluations required to make sure that a physician is still competent to practice medicine.
Older physicians could make several types of mistakes. They could forget necessary treatment or forget about their patients. They may be unable to diagnose their patients. There is an increased likelihood of suffering from a stroke or heart attack. Should a stroke or heart attack occur, the patients they are operating on or caring for in the emergency room could be endangered. Such impairments could leave a hospital open to a medical malpractice lawsuit should the patient become injured or die.
Some hospitals are attempting to impose regulations on their aging physicians to ensure they are still competent to treat patients. This is a good idea because the onset of dementia can be gradual and symptoms may not be noticed until it is too late. Unfortunately, it is often the case that a physician’s inability to practice is not recognized until a patient is either injured or dies.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice due to a doctor’s mistake, contact an experienced Kingston, New York medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your case.
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