Yale study sheds light on cognitive abilities of physicians over 70


About 13 percent of physicians older than 70 years showed cognitive deficits that would impair their ability to practice medicine during mandatory testing at a Connecticut hospital, according to a Medpage Today report.

A study, conducted at Yale New Haven (Conn.) Hospital and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, examined results of mandatory tests that all clinicians, 70 years or older, had to undergo as part of a two-year reappointment process. The tests assessed their cognitive function.

Of 141 applicants, 57.4 percent completed the tests and continued the credentialing process. Around 24 percent continued to the credentialing process but were scheduled for rescreening in one year due to small abnormalities in the results.

But 12.8 percent (18 clinicians) showed cognitive deficits that would likely diminish their ability to practice medicine independently.

"None of these 18 clinicians had been previously brought to the attention of hospital authorities because of concern about their practice abilities," Leo Cooney, MD, a geriatric medicine professor at Yale Medical School in New Haven told MedPage Today.

"I now believe that it is essential to review older clinicians," he added. "While older clinicians can bring a great deal of experience and expertise to the practice of medicine, we must be sure that they have the cognitive ability to solve problems and make appropriate judgments."

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