Some physical problems that impair a surgeon’s prowess include hand tremors; diminished ability to stand for a long period of time due to knee, ankle, or leg problems; impaired dexterity due to arthritis; loss of the ability to use a microscope because bending over results in neck and back problems; and declines in vision, said Maya Babu, MD, MBA, a neurosurgeon in Miami, Fla., who contributed to a position paper published by the American College of Surgeons about aging surgeons.
Other potential warning signs, according to ACS’ paper, include unusual tardiness, evidence of poor clinical judgment, major changes in referral patterns, unexplained absences, confusion, change in personality, disruptiveness, drastic change in appearance, and unusually late and incoherent documentation.
In addition to their declining abilities, some may argue that older surgeons are less familiar with newer technologies. “I don’t know of any data that says that’s true,” Dr. Chole said. “I don’t think that’s the case in an academic environment because older surgeons are constantly exposed to trainees and younger doctors, who create an environment that leads to the adoption of newer technologies, but it’s possible and worthy of study.” | ← Previous | | | Next → | Single Page