Youth vs. Experience: Are you safer when seen by older doctors?

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — If you could choose your doctor, would you prefer youth or experience? You might pick the fresh-faced physician if you consider that patients in hospital settings are more likely to die when treated by doctors who are at least 60 years old, according to a recent study.

Researchers at Harvard wanted to know how well physicians perform as they age. They looked at the records of 730,000 Medicare patients treated between 2011 and 2014 by more than 18,800 hospital-based internists (hospitalists).

Doctor
Perhaps all that experience isn’t so great after all. A recent study finds that patients are more likely to die when treated by doctors over the age of 60.

Patient deaths rose gradually as physicians aged, but the biggest gap —1.3 percentage points —showed up between hospitalists 40 and younger and those 60 and older.  This means one additional death for every 77 patients admitted by a doctor who is 60 or older versus a doctor who is 40 or younger.

Study senior investigator Anupam Jena, an associate professor of Health Care Policy at the university and a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, says this outcome raises some serious concerns.

“It is comparable to the difference in death rates observed between patients at high risk for heart disease who are treated with proper heart medications and those who receive none,” she explains in a Harvard Medical School release.

There is a bright spot, however, in all this aging gloom and doom. When physicians carry heavy caseloads, physician age is not a factor in patient mortality. Researchers believe that caring for large numbers of patients keeps a doctor’s skill set strong.

Older doctors may have knowledge that can only be gained by experience, but they cannot just rest on their laurels. They have to keep up with the rapid changes that come with new research and technology.

“The results of our study suggest the critical importance of continuing medical education throughout a doctor’s entire career, regardless of age and experience,” Jena says.

Researchers say this study is too limited to draw any final conclusions about how older physicians perform on the job. They would like to look into what else might be influencing the higher mortality rates in patients cared for by older doctors.

Perhaps, in answer to the first question posed, your best bet is to choose the busiest doctor.

The study’s findings were published in The BMJ.

Comments

  1. So Doogie Howser is the best Doctor to diagnose your problems. I’ll make sure next time to see if my doctor is still a high school student or not.

  2. I am leaving a young doctor to find one who is more mature. “Doogie Howser” as I call him seems to have the attention span of a puppy. I always have to wait far beyond my appointment time. Then when he comes in, I get the bum’s rush after about 12 minutes. Doesn’t seem to listen to a word I say. Enough!!!

  3. I chose a young surgeon for my prostatectomy, because he was trained at Mayo Clinic. Big mistake. It all went wrong in every possible way, and I live with the consequences. Many of my friends had excellent results with an older, experienced surgeon, who I now see, too late.

  4. Y’know, there’s another side to this. Even if the study did control for age of patients, as about half the comments here ask or suggest. Sometimes, with older patients, the DNR is the right answer. Maybe more of those go to the older doctors, or the older doctors understand them better.

  5. They failed to take into account that most patients are older, request older doctors, and older people die more than younger ones, thus skewing the results. Once again correlation does not imply causation.

    1. This was a study of hospitalists…they just admit everyone who comes to the hospital, young and old. They have no established patients.

  6. I started reading this study and have noted several flaws already. The most glaring is how the researchers defined “high volume” among the physicians studied. They claimed high volume as greater than 200 admissions a year. Keep in mind that the study found no difference in mortality rates of patients of older vs. younger “high volume” hospitalists.

    Let me explain to the uninitiated: 200 admissions is not a “high volume” for a hospitalist. If you were to ask me to define “high volume” I would probably tell you “greater than 900 admissions annually”.I have my own private outpatient practice and average 300+ admissions a year in my inpatient practice which is only about 10-15% of my practice. With 200 admissions and lets just say a 5 day average hospital stay per patient (which would be high) that’s 1,000 patient visits per year or only 20 patient visits per week. Thats like not even working. I have 6,000-7,000 patient visits a year. So the doctors in which the researchers found this elevated mortality rate really are working part-time, moonlighting or semi-retired.

    1. From the Boston Globe, dated Oct 31st, “…A D.C. pharmacist says his pharmacy has filled prescriptions for “pretty serious health problems” for members of Congress, including drugs for Alzheimer’s disease…”

  7. All this means is you have to keep up with your profession no matter what it is. Things are always changing and if you are lazy you will be behind and inefficient. It applies across the board. Also being over 50 I choose a doctor with small hands.

  8. FAKE NEWS- AGE DISCRIMINATION! Really? Let me have an old doctor instead of a wet behind the ears newbie help-desk herder. The old guys remember what personal relationships with patients were like. They tend to still want to operate on a personal level. The problem is finding an older one. They all are quitting or being replaced by nurse practitioners. Doctors are being told by a bunch of pencil pusher how to do their job and queue filling is all that matters to them. We are not cattle.

  9. It is a known fact that people age differently. At age 70, your car insurance GO’s UP…Actuarially, seniors have more accidents then the general population….There are some 70 plus people who are better than someone in their 40’s…and driving is just one area……Doctors/medical people are no different.

  10. Next time you fly, that pilot sitting in the cockpit is required by law to retire at 65. That limit was raised from 60 a couple of years ago. The man/woman sitting in the left seat has 100+ people dependent on their skill…. As part of their training they have to take certain ‘check’ rides, and attend a recurrent training annually…Does that doc who is 60 required to do that? Doctors seem to be getting a free ride…

  11. I wonder if only looking at Medicare patients in their study skewed the results. Many doctors are refusing to treat Medicare patients and some of those that are treating them have developed a less-then-professional attitude due to the hassles of dealing with ever-increasing government regulations and ever-decreasing reimbursement rates. If I have a doctor that doesn’t seem to care any more, I’m moving on to better care – younger or older it does not matter as much as whether they care or not. Same thing holds true to any service based profession/professional.

  12. did study asccount for age of patients treated? maybe older doctors are preferred by people more ;ikely to die, i.e older patients.

  13. They are trying to institutionalize ageism. Hitler had university studies showing that Germans were smarter than blacks or Jews. They want to make it legal to discriminate against people strictly on age alone. Shun this kind of hate.

  14. Years ago, I was rushed into the emergency room with acute appendicitis. Young unknown intern doctor, emergency operation. Result: all okay, with only a scar about an inch and a half when established surgeons of the time were performing the same operation and leaving a scar the size of the stomach … and bigger!!! When the intern went out on his own, he soon became the ‘best’. Point being that those closest to recently leaving school knew the most up to date methods. I assume that still holds.

  15. Over 99% of patients who die in the hospital die at the hands of a doctor with two legs. Less than 1% die in the hands of a doctor with one leg.

  16. my doctor is still going strong at 92. went to a large famous NYC Hospital for a complete check up and said nothing was wrong. week later checked in with old Doc for a second go, sent me directly to St Francis Heart Hospital, LI, NY. widow maker artery 95% blocked…..he saved my life. they said I would have died within 3 months.(lot of collateral arteries masked the blockage) now ride my mountain bike 10 miles a day with no problem. (that and a strict Dr Esselstyn plant based diet) would not take no for an answer, gave old Doc a case of red wine from St Francis Winery, CA lol.

  17. This isn’t a study. This is a communist propaganda piece designed to condition sheeple into accepting the sewer of commie care we peons will eventually be completely imprisoned within.

  18. Frankly, with the fast development off AI, remote sensor using nano technology, and advanced robotic surgery techniques, I would prefer a computer diagnosis over a human doctor. AI would have perfect knowledge off all medical knowledge at all times. Provided accurate lab data were maintained over an individual’s lifetime, something that is not done today, computers cold easily determiner a medical profile based on the individual and use that data stream to provide early detection of a medical condition needing observation and/or treatment.

    The process I described above is what doctors attempt to do, and they do it fairly well, but given the current state of AI, nano-technology, and the rapid advance in medical knowledge, there is no way any human doctor can or will be competitive in the future.

        1. Some use advanced technology, but sometimes it’s like a chimp with a chainsaw, the whole structure of the modern “practice” is a millennium out of date. I’m also looking forward to some more AI in medicine.

  19. I don’t believe this… every single industry and science proves that experience is the highest deciding factor in any type up outcome…

  20. Great lets fire the doctors with the most experience right Harvard?. Maybe those more experienced Doctors get referred the toughest cases.Did you ever think of that Harvard? What you won’t do- and unbiased study looking at morbidity and mortality of patient seeing NPs as their primary caregivers or instead of seeing the MD in specialty practices. One has to seriously question the role of Harvard in society. While MIT graduates (my alma mater ) account for the equivalent of the 11th largest GDP in the world ,Harvard brings us SJW and age biased studies.

  21. The question is, is it due to age related loss of mental capacity to think? Or, because the old timers are still practicing medicine in a manner that is naive to the latest scientific evidence?

  22. As a doctor, as I get older, so do my patients, and the older we get, the sicker we get. I have had to save quite a few of my patients from the “care” of younger doctors- and nurse practitioners.

    Remember the old German folk saying
    ” A New Doctor means a full graveyard”

  23. This study reminds me of the study of mortality at various hospitals that neglected to take into account hospitals and affiliated doctors & surgeons that take on the most difficult and complicated cases. Indeed the very best hospitals were those that accepted risky & difficult cases even though that policy hurt their mortality statistics. In this study, as far as I can tell, there was no differentiation by age of patient or seriousness of the patient’s condition. Without those and other variables, the study is next to worthless.

  24. And how was this study controlled for they likely hood that a doctor’s patients age at the same he does.

  25. It doesn’t matter when doctors have a heavy load because then everybody dies. This is the case in all the US hospitals I’ve seen. “Hospitalists” and nurses are hard working, or so they say, because you can’t find either.

  26. I think a lot of older doctors get tired and worn out. They just don’t care anymore. I seen that when my mom was sick and then passed away. To be fair, the younger doctors and nurses didn’t seem that concerned about her either. When you are old you get treated badly. I had always heard that. Didn’t believe it until I witnessed it with my mom.

    1. That is what experienced doctors deal with every day. Recognizing and communicating futility to family members who don’t understandably see it. Not the doctors fault – just part of the job.

      1. That is just stupid. Don’t even go there. If you think telling a dying woman all the scary details of her dying is what an experienced doctor does, then you are an idiot. The women knew she was dying. She didn’t need to know all the sicking details of how it was happening. Talking about her like she wasn’t even in the room. If you are a doctor or healthcare professional, then you are a sorry one.

        1. Did you read what I wrote. Communicating to family members and ultimately honestly with the patient – do you think that is not appropriate? News to you – you will die someday and you will want someone experienced to assist you.

          1. Did you read what I wrote? Did I at any point insinuate that we, or her, did not understand she was dying and options were limited? I don’t think so. We knew she was dying. She didn’t want to be kept alive in her state. My whole point was they way they treated a dying woman. They were crude, insensitive, saying all kinds of scary things about organs shutting down and all that shit. We knew that! She knew that! Why keep reminding everybody! Why keep talking about her like she wasn’t in the room? They weren’t talking to her; they were talking about her! Laughing with each other about conversations that had nothing to do with the job, and not an ounce of empathy about how she felt. She had a lot of sorry a** doctors and nursing staff. There were also so really great ones. Like the ICU nurses. Outstanding! They had a clue about was going on and how to treat a dying person. Too many hospital staff are sorry losers when it comes to treating the human side of a person, and odds are you are too.

          2. My grandfather joked quite a bit about his pending death, and his doctor reflected his attitude. Freaked my aunts out.

  27. So again just more fake news that liberals think is “Science”
    Researchers say this study is too limited to draw any final conclusions about how older physicians perform on the job.

  28. I think older patients tend to stick with their older doctors. Older patients are more likely to die at any time than younger patients.

  29. I saw a young doctor rescusitating a terminal patient for the 29th time that night, and finally pulled him through brain dead and on a ventilator. Is this what you mean?

    1. Agreed. Some younger physicians are focused on resuscitating a patient to have a heart rate, BP and respiratory rate (well even a vent rate will do). I fell younger physicians are taught that; as well as nurses, paramedics and PAs. Until one works or walks through a vent hospital, or watch one of the “saves” live on a vent for weeks -or longer- in the place they finally die, do we come to understand sometimes letting a person die is best for the families and patients.
      Wisdom and experience….

          1. Auto mechanics doesn’t apply to the medical world. The law states that if you start a rescue of any kind and stop in the middle, and the victim dies, you are guilty of wrongful death. If anyone, medical or not, starts CPR, you cannot legally quit until they are officially deemed dead by a physician; this doubly applies to licensed medical personnel. This is my understanding as a retired RN and Paralegal.

          2. In the industry, that’s what’s known as a Legal Nurse Consultant (LNC). LNCs are great at risk analysis and regulatory compliance. Even show up to court as an expert witness in civil suits involving nurses. There’s a wide world out there in the field of nursing, you should look into becoming one.

          3. LOL Given I have already earned my MD and MSPH, a JD the cheapest way to earn a seat for the state Bar exam is the only possible interest to me. And then my interest would be in intellectual property not mucking around in malpractice or domestic law.

          4. Yeah, you have all this time on your hands to make silly posts being poly-doctorate. Say hello to your mother next time she brings down your PBJ sandwich to your basement “apartment”, as she’s gotta be a saint.

          5. The lady you visit once a year in the nursing home, and yell at the staff for not paying her enough attention? You’re that guy.

          6. The one you were too lazy to help with scheduled toileting and let get the decubitus started on your watch no doubt.

          7. A DNR when present is valid in the ED at the nursing home and in the field.
            I’m not 100% sure the laws in all states are the same, but the states I know, a signed DNR is valid when presented at time of end of life.

          8. Yes, at nursing homes, in the field, on the floor, but not in the ER. The industry doesn’t want medical professionals second guessing themselvelves in that setting. This is nationwide.

          9. I’ve seen DNR stop cpr in private homes.. no doctor around. I’m sorry, you simply do not know why you are talking about. Maybe your assertions were true years ago, but not now.

        1. Umm, remember Annie, Annie, are you all right? No breathing, no pulse… call 911 or call a code bc with no breathing and no pulse – he/she is dead. So calling the code doesn’t make him/her more dead.

      1. As a retired hospitalist/intensivist I can promise you our shifts rarely ended with prompt 12 hour clock outs. Most of us on the floor and in the ICUs did what we needed to tuck our patients before handing over their care – with that often entailing staying later than our “shifts”. The ones that left unstabilized patients bc their “shift” was over are not the ones I want caring for me or mine but that’s all there will be soon enough. Count yourself lucky if you can understand them when they blow through.

  30. I think there is a huge integrity problem. I just learned last night that my brother’s doctor kept prescribing lamictal to him even after multiple severe rashes that my brother never told me about that are probably stevens johnson.

  31. Older patients have more age related problems – not the DR’s fault! ( You really don’t want to be in the Hospital when you’re sick. ) The young kids don’t have the background / experience of an older Doc, and probably tend to more strictly adhere to Gov’t guidelines – like NOW B/P 130/70, 2 weeks ago 140 / 75. Wife’s heart doc – It’s just a number – always HIGH when taken by the new young assistants who slap an Omiron cuff , poke the button, and then talk while getting your BP. Rarely can they take it manually. Anyhoo, 1.3% diff?? Wow. OK outahere.

  32. I’d be curious to know if they took into account the age of the patient. Older doctors are more likely to be treating older patients, who may have treated much of their lives, I would suppose, in many instances.

    Hence, you’re going to have more death among older patients. Did anyone else that they brought that up in the article?

  33. “Researchers say this study is too limited to draw any final conclusions about how older physicians perform on the job…” Priority #1 – speak clear English to your potential patients.

  34. Older patients have probably been with their doctor for many years, that makes the doctor older and older patient more likely to die.

  35. Also, another study showed that as the water table declined the consumption of peanuts and cracker jacks increased, and surprisingly, another revealed that most places on the globe out of view from the sun had the most sleepiness associated.

  36. A recent study showed that if you pump a gallon of milk into a laboratory rat, it will explode.

    Laughable study.

  37. A true non sequitur, as older doctors tend to serve an older population in more rural areas, and at community hospitals with lower acuity ratings, rather than city teaching hospitals with higher trauma ratings. Add to this that most older patients have a DNR which precludes resuscitation and increases mortality. Basically, this is a bullshit report.

    1. DNRs aren’t invalid in the ER. However, many patients don’t bring the DNR with them or their family doesn’t abide by the patient’s wishes.

        1. I thought so, thanks for the professional first hand report. The original poster that DNRs weren’t valid in the ER.

  38. As the wife of a cancer patient (who passed away due to drug dosage error) and a retired critical care nurse, the medical errors my husband and I witnessed during his 3 year cancer season were staggering. Medical errors were committed by physicians; nurses; pharmacy; nurse assistants… Any attempt on our part to notify anyone of errors committed so that no one else would have to experience what we did were completely invalidated and ignored.
    Medical care in the USA, even with so many miraculous technological advances, is third world due to the sloppy, lazy work ethic in a majority of medical personnel.
    I, personally, have completely stopped getting check ups or medical care whatsoever from physicians, PAs, Nurse Practitioners. I don’t want to witness or be the recipient of inept medical personnel.

    1. Good riddance – as a physician who works 80 hours a week I don’t expect thanks but I don’t respect arrogant nonsense of a single unaduticated rant without reply.

      1. As a U.S. Dr you would starve to death in Europe trying to practice. The People would bad mouth you, call you a Quack trying to give them Big Pharma Drugs…

        There a much better way with no life threatening Side Effects.

        1. And doctors are paid to see like 10 patients a day , then go home, No pay for seeing extras. When your sick, they schedule you for next week. Need a new hip, wait a year or two. MRI, scheduled, in 4 months while your tumor grows to inoperable size. That’s ok, here’s a bunch of morphine, go die quietly, if you don’t like that then here’s a nice cyanide tab, swallow it and your pain and suffering are gone. Yeah, Love EuroMed Inc. Why do you think all the Eurotrash politicians, Canadian Politicians, are in luxury VIP accommodations at Johns Hopkins, UCLA Medical Center and others?

  39. Well seasoned, more technically experienced mechanics get the more challenging repairs to do. I supposed if you took a raw look at the data without any analysis or wisdom about the matter you could say transmissions fail more often with older heavy line mechanics than with the younger less experience mechanics who get only light service jobs to do.

  40. Here’s how this study ought to read if you want the truth:
    “Patients Over 60 More Likely To Die When Treated By a Doctor.”

  41. Me I’m 68 and I’ve lived in Asia and Europe. Dr’s over there are 180 degrees on the other side in Practice compared to the U.S.

    I never take any drugs of any kind from them because I know how to take care of myself.

    Quit relying on Dr’s because most are Drug addicts Quacks and couldn’t can’t heal a toothache.

    The Almighty Father gave Man Herbs for Healing and to keep you from aging so fast. Research them.

    Oh yea and stay away from alcohol, it causes all kind of diseases!

    1. I also am sixty eight. Older doctors are in what is the medical mafia, they have no choice. The only meds I take is a super B complex, four thousand mills of vitamin c, tumeric. The only saving grace in medicine today is in the emergency room and trauma care. All else is putting you in danger. I would be dead by now if I took what they wanted me to. And do not let them suck you into a colonoscopy, there are other choices. Medicine is changing wake up everyone.

      1. A little fish oil wouldn’t hurt, vitamin d, also q10. On that turmeric, watch out, google “maoi cheese” because turmeric is a type-2 maoi – makes your BP go up for about twelve hours.

      2. Yeah, don’t remove colon cancer before it metastasizes, a funeral after a couple years of cancer is a fun alternative treatment.

        1. I detox my colon four times a year for the last ten years now. Truly watch watch what I eat, do not drink, no drugs ever. It’s not your colon that makes you sick it is the filth you call food that does it and the doctor knows it. Also there are safer ways to detect cancer in the bowel. There are doctors out there and powerful herb solutions. Medicine is changing that is why so many doctors who do not align with Big Pharma are mysteriously dying. Google it.

  42. “Researchers at Harvard wanted to know how well physicians perform as they age. ”

    ‘Performance’ may not be the key issue here. Older doctors may be able to ‘perform’ adequately but might not keep up as well with technological innovation – new drugs, new treatments, etc. There are exceptions to this, of course – some people are receptive to new things at any age. Young doctors coming out of med school are likely to be up-to-date with the latest technology whereas older ones are more likely to do as they have been doing for decades.

        1. At least he is sane. I wouldn’t make a pimple on a doctor’s butt, but even I can see you’re a damned fruitcake.

  43. THESE ARE LIKELY THE SAME PUBLIC HEALTH JERKS THAT IMPLEMENTED ACA, MASSACHUSETTS PRE OBAMACARE. FROM WHAT I COULD SEE, THEY TREAT SENIORS AND DOCTORS. THEY MUST HAVE AN AGENDA THEY WANT TO PUSH.

  44. And don’t forget about the even greater difference between a Doctor and a Physician’s Assistant (PA) that often has 98% of the authority of a full fledged doctor.

  45. Flawed for sure. I am one of those “older, experienced” physicians and have seen enough long, slow painful deaths not to subject patients to many of the “newer” technologies that prolong an agonizing existence which is not in best interest of patient. However, makes a family (that sees them once a month in the nursing home) feel a lot better that they told the doctor (by phone at 2am) to “do everything”. Some of us know when to stop.

    1. “…”newer” technologies that prolong an agonizing existence…”

      How about a few examples of these ‘newer’ technologies to avoid? Are they preventative or do they cure?

  46. FAKE Study. Dear Obama Insurance Companies – try hiding your tracks better next time. This is too easy to look up and debunk. Let me guess: The next study will show that Doctors from 3rd world countries without a U.S. License ALSO are better doctors. Their long term plan is to H1B doctors because they are cheaper.

  47. Older doctors have been in practice a long time and so have older patients. Older patients die more. Mystery solved.

  48. very stupid analysis.Many people have the same doctor and carry them into their old age, hence why they and the doctor are older when God forbid they pass.

  49. This may be true, but I suspect the reason is that their patients are also older and often have been seeing the same family doctor for decades. We old codgers do croak with greater frequency than do younger people. Just in my lifetime the average lifespan has gone from 65 to perhaps 85-87. The older a doctor is the more accumulated experience and knowledge he has. Being an old fart myself I have no illusions of living much longer. I look at every day as a gift from God and modern medicine.

  50. I have heard younger doctors tell patients to “go on and give their families relief.” Also, Medicare refuses to treat older people unless the doctor overrides the decision. Younger doctors don’t see the need to lengthen life.

  51. This was limited to “hospitalists” which are not “hospital based internists” these are usually the ER staff, ER doctors who have to act quickly, are overwhelmed, make fast judgements. Patients who are rushed to the ER can have anything from a bad cold to a major trauma, and its an area where burnout is so high that I’m surprised they found any doctors over 60 who still work in this field – which is not the same as a general internist.
    Also – by limiting it to medicare patients who are over 60, you are dealing with an age group that has higher incidence of serious health issues. Why not just say patients who are over 60 are more likely to die than patients under 40. Sheesh. And this is Harvard doing the study.

  52. Although I personally would feel quite comfortable with a 60 year old physician, the key is ‘over 60.’ That includes 70, 75 and no…I do not want to be treated for a life threatening illness by a 75 year old.
    For some reason (maybe fear of getting older ourselves) we as a society have decided to ignore the fact that people deteriorate over time. I am 50. My body does not respond the way it did when I was 25, and taking Calculus at 48 was a struggle that I would not have endured at 18. A typical (not every person alive, so you can save the comments about how your 95 year old great grandma is ‘sharp as a tack’) sign of aging is memory loss, belligerence, etc…I think we need to grow up and admit that getting older does effect us. That does not mean people become useless, it just means we are not necessarily at our optimum anymore. It is not a slander. It is just the fact of getting older.

    1. A lot of that deterioration is due to diet and lifestyle choices. There are a lot of sharp-minded old foggies out there.

  53. Nobody will understand a thing until he becomes ill, not diagnosed/misdiagnosed, feeling hopeless, ignored, googling his own
    symptoms, until ONE doctor in a big city will do the miracle and bring you back to life.

  54. One obvious flaw in this study is that people who go to the same doctor for years will naturally be seeing an older doctor, and will naturally be older themselves. Older patients (say 60+) = higher mortality rate.

    1. wouldnt be so bad, kathy if Medicare wasnt stacking the deck against older patients and older doctors. Many can no longer afford to see Medicare patients, The government implemented pre-Obamacare on seniors (medicare) long before Obamacare came out. Medicare punishes the seniors and doctors and tries to make all seniors poor. if you look at the selection of plans and quality of those plans, it is appalling. With all the attention being paid to overturning Obamacare I notice NO ONE is standing up against Medicare . i always felt like O-care was our punishment for not overturning Medicare. GIVE SENIORS CHOICE.

      1. The establishment of Medicare and enabling insurance companies to dump all 65+ yos was the biggest boon ever to insurance companies. Politicians made their insurance industry pals a pant load many times over with that move and transferred it all onto US taxpayers.

  55. I trust older doctors who have more experience. It’s what you learn after you think you know it all that really counts.

  56. Well, it’s important to consider that this study looks at hospitalists. A lot of the hosptialists over 60 are doctors who were family practice or internal medicine practitioners who wanted to “slow down” and/or were tired of keeping up the demands of their private office practices. They became hospitalists, so that they have more limited work hours. The also may not be as zealous about continuing education as a younger, more aggressive doctors. In the last 20 years or so, medical schools have been training doctors specifically to be hospitalists. These younger hospitalists may be more up to date on the most current diagnostic modalities, as well as the current pathogenic risks in their institutions. They may also be more aggressive and competitive about continuing education. I chose my current doctor partly because he was younger than I am, and would have a decent chance of retaining his mental faculties even as mine start to go into the tank!

    1. That’s not how the hospitalists I know developed. Former internal medicine/intensivist attendings set up private hospitalist practice in our north Seattle hospital in the mid-90s. When I moved across the country I became a hospitalist – easy bc my training was primarily hospital-based and a large portion of time was in the ICUs . My hours were never by the clock – always that last incredibly sick admit after 11 hours and 30 minutes pushing clock out time from 12 to 14 hours. The advantage to me was being paid an hourly rather than getting $57 from Medicare for 2 1/2 hours stabilizing and admitting and meeting with family. Good luck with the younger practioners; their training was limited by admission limits and time restrictions. It is revealed in their willingness to fob off that incredibly sick admit coming in 30 minutes before their clock out time to the incoming rather than man up and get that patient admitted stabilized and cared for. Pick your poison.

      1. That’s good to hear. My comments are based on what I’ve seen some of the older primary care doctors do in my more rural area.

        1. The older ones are more likely to hold a hand rather than scuttling to punch a clock but that’ll change over soon enough. Youth is wasted on the young.

  57. lol, first of all that difference is not statistically significant. second of all, you’re talking about medicare patients in hospital settings. well, the more experienced physicians (ergo older, a**hats) will get the more difficult cases. this is worthless, and not unexpected coming from a younger, merely associate professor of “health care policy”, lol, she’s a public health wonk, not a medical doctor.

  58. I am a physician, past 60, and to some degree I agree with the assessment. You do NOT want me as your hospital physician. That is a specialty in and of itself, the science changes radically, and I probably could kill you without batting an eyelash. On the other hand, I have extensive clinical experience in dealing with disease, the knowledge of when to ignore your health insurer’s guidelines on how to heal the masses, of which drugs you NEED as opposed to which drugs the 3rd party of the health clinic’s underpaid nurse has been ordered to prescribe. I don’t work on a time card. So the reality is that insurers and the fat nose of government has greatly affected your health care, and very adversely. It is a much more dangerous world out there today than when I was that fresh face. Choose, wisely. And not by cost! Not if you want to live, anyway.

    1. Well said. Also a physician; 50something. Wouldn’t be a hospitalist for any $ in the world. If anything, the study says more about senior physicians who choose to become hospitalists than it does about the other 95% of physicians in practice. Either burned out, slowing down, or not making it in their original specialty.

    2. Good points. I remember when ED doctors were not a specialist too. Medicine has changed and continues to change. We all want the best SPECIALISTS we can have. Keeping up on the latest trends and/ or changes usually falls with the younger physicians, but experience and dedication are hard to quantify in clinical trials.

  59. The study population was non-self-admit (hence, emergency) patients 65 years of age and older. I’d like to see additional studies before swallowing this author’s shock claims.

    For example, “patients in hospital settings are more likely to die when treated by doctors who are at least 60 years old,” is patently false. This was a very limited set of older patients in the hospital for life-threatening emergencies. It is quite possible that older physicians are LESS INCLINED to provide aggressive care to these patients, some of whom may not have wished to be kept alive at all costs.

    Again, despite the headline, this single study does not tell us much.

  60. this seems like it would have to be normalized for the patient’s age. it would make sense that a doctor’s patients age just like he does, so an older doctor probably has an older group of patients, who may have a higher death rate because they themselves are older.

  61. I refused chemotherapy from a 71 year old oncologist–did you know that the frontline chemo used in ALL tumor cancers is 39 years old? They don’t want to cure cancer–they want to TREAT cancer. When I found out he wanted to use this ancient protocol, I refused and walked out. 2 YEARS LATER (after the moron swore I’d die 18 months ago) I’m still here and my cancer has not spread one bit–but my sister who went for the chemo died from it–11 months diagnosis to grave with all the chemo they could pump into her. I’m perfectly healthy with NO chemo and NO radiation. I’ll never trust a doctor again.

    1. While human beings have the same basic structure, each body has differences … it’s why some people can smoke for 80 years and not get cancer. Our individual immune systems vary in performance.

    2. Fine, get your care from a chiropractor. You seem to know more than we do anyway. Just don’t call me at 3 in the morning when you start to drool from metastases to the brain. Merry Christmas.

      1. Lol, just wait until somebody brings up statins. Arm chair doctors and diagnosticians will suddenly appear in droves to educate everyone about how statins are the spawn of the devil and caused all their problems and should never be taken.

        1. PLEASE sir, DO NOT get me started on that topic! My standard line regarding statins is that the only ones who have side effects are people who get their info from their computers. Oh, and you left out how vaccines cause autism in kids. And the wing nuts in California wonder why there is a whooping cough and hepatitis A epidemic in that state. You can’t cure stupid.

          1. Statins appear to reduce the chance of a second heart attack but not the first . They can cause muscle inflammation fairly commonly and liver inflammation less commonly
            Genetics and inflammation of the arterial inner wall are stronger correlators of risk for heart attack than lipid levels. Uric acid elevations are definitely a risk factor for heart attacks and hypertension as high urate creates an inflammatory response in arteries.

          1. Internal medicine specialists used to be referred to as diagnosticians back in the day, before they were de-balled by our current dysfunctional “healthcare” system.

          2. That is kind of bizarre. If I had a gastro complaints, I would go to somebody to get diagnosed first, and then to somebody else to get treated? Can’t stand that scenario.

          3. That was back when physicians could auscultate, percuss, palpate and make diagnoses based on physical exam. Nowadays w/o an u/s, echo. CT or MRI, many of the young Turks are lost bc they are bereft of diagnostic acumen. No kentucky, kentucky, kentucky or mississippi, mississippi, mississsippi for them. No knowing the back of the patient’s hand is an instant IVP monitor.
            ESL geniuses at a hospital in Morristown, NJ, diagnosed my MIL who developed seizures on a flight back from Durban as having had a stroke. Kept her several weeks, missing her etoh withdrawal (they were told about her daily 5pm tippler for 50 years multiple times – banana bag and ativan please was totally ignored), loading her with all the latest and greatest anticonvulsants that did not work (the old cheap ones also covered etoh withdrawal unlike the $$$ new drugs), G-tubing her and making certain she was infected with VRE and then shipping down to NC for ‘rehab”. Within one day of arrival in NC she was diagnosed with, not a stroke, but a glioblastoma.

      2. The fact that you call yourself ‘SmartDoctor’, as though to imply others aren’t, is a good reason not to seek your ‘professional’ care or advice.

      3. Is it any wonder the highest suicide rates and addiction rates of all professionals lay with the doctors? Read Eustace Mullins or Jennifer Daniels. All these “doctor” comments are rather uncaring and mean.

        I was misdiagnosed with so many b.s. things in the early 1990s – spent so much money, time and fear taking pills and taking more costly tests for each of them for over 15 years and never got any better. Then I treated Toxoplasmosis gondii and candida infection 10 years ago and everything cleared up, mainly via diet and lifestyle changes.

        How come doctors dont question packaged diets and high-risk behavior? How come you wont discuss parasite infections, which are RAMPANT in Americans? I’ve never been ill since. Not once.

        Some doctors literally have no online manner.

    3. Hey, you’re the expert.
      And, BTW: there is no single agent, 39 years old or not, used in ‘ALL tumor cancers’.
      Glad you’re well. Now please, ST*U, mmm’kayyy?

      1. Oh yes there absolutely is you moron It’s called carboplatin. You better get a refund from medical school, unlike you I passed my board exams. You know what else is universally used? Taxanes and paclitaxel.
        I don’t know a single MD that would allow themselves to be chemotherapied. Here’s another little tidbit you know the number one side effect of chemo therapy is? More cancer! Look it up do some research instead just running your ignorant mouth. If you’d kept quiet no one would know you’re an idiot. I wrote the book on this.

        1. Please outline the indications for carboplatin in colorectal cancer, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and renal cell carcinoma.
          I’ll wait.

          1. Being diagnosed with any of those cancers is all it takes to trigger it. Carboplatin alone or with paclitaxel is the frontline treatment for all solid tumor cancers. Clearly you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    4. This is not about age. it is about the type of doctor who practices what they learned in school versus keeps up with the journals and research. i have done healthcare reengineering and tech for a long time plus been a complex patient and what you need is a doctor (young or old) who connect the dots and thinks out of the box as opposed to practicing anecdotal medicine (what they hear in the news or magazines). sadly, the same people (public health wonks) that likely did this study have an agenda against doctors. In ACA they all thought they were so smart that they set up providers to be overworked, pushed out of business and not allowed to practice medicine the way they want because the insurance wonks were given all the power. makes me sick. its a hard process but keep looking. i had to see multiple orthopedists before i found someone who practiced “current” sports medicine and used current therapies.

      1. the term practicing the “art of medicine” is what was removed by those public health wonks who decided that they could put the administration of healthcare into a viable business model… this is what you get….

    5. Be sure to take vitamin D3 and get your blood levels tested. Also, turmeric/curcumin, resveratrol, garlic. If you want to get innovative, consider NAD+. And don’t forget your brain. Without it, everything else will shut down. There are plenty of nootropics on the market.

      1. Hooray for Provigil 200mg 2 am and 1 mid-day for OSA !! Except it is now about $55 a tablet at retail. Look at the Orange Book to check the difficulties with the cheap foreign generic versions the health insurers try to push and cost about $1 a pill.

        The “pre-authorization” routine to have brand dispensed or new medicines dispensed is also bullshit. A valid Rx should be all it takes to obligate the insurer to pay per the contract.

        I and my doctors are sick and tired of Express Scripts unlawful practice of medicine suggesting to me Lisinopril (which I had tried with bad consequences) versus Benicar which has no such side effects .
        The dumbasses at ExpressScripts told me it would be equally effective or better but Lisinopril just sucks – a cheap generic instead of the new stuff that works.

        Express Scripts also tried to switch me from Pfizer Lipitor to generic claiming it would cost me less, bullshit. Most brands have patient rebate programs. I pay $4 for Lipitor for 3-30 days after the rebate paid as a credit to the retail price at the pharmacy. How is it cheaper to pay Express Scripts $800 a year for Lipitor when I can get it for $48 a year at the pharmacy.
        With this in mind, my position is that should I develop Lipitor injury my medical record will clearly lay the blame on Pfizer rather than some bozo in India.

        Perhaps the object of the Harvard study was a further attempt to dilute the intellect of America by discrediting established experienced practicioners in attempting to direct patients to younger less experienced doctors who are likely more susceptible to manipulation in Rx matters and routine as well as expensive tests such as CT, MRI, fMRI, PET, etc. I hate insurance companies and their minions.

    6. at least you should have proffered the presumptive diagnosis ma’m. hunch: breast ca in situ. dont treat it? sayonara. fred md

  62. This kind of BS story is dangerous. It is literal baloney, as there is no indication of the seriousness of the illnesses, age groups, the likelihood of very old patients having had the same doctor for decades to naturally have an older doctor, and a younger patient to have a younger doctor as they may be just entering the medical provider services. There are about 100 things these idiots didn’t disclose or didn’t study that could or would explain or further clarify any conclusions. We are drowning in BS studies that prove nothing while spending hard earned dollars – sheer foolish waste, no doubt as a part of government grant (i.e taxpayer funded).

    1. Most people do because minorities don’t have to make as good of grades as white doctors. This is one area affirmative action hurts minorities. If it wasn’t for that most people wouldn’t care.

      1. Seriouslady: “…don’t have to make as good of grades as white doctors.” ???

        [email protected]#$%& . . . . I have a heart attack every time I read that!!!!

        Can you write, “…don’t have grades as good as white doctors.”?????

    2. My first choice would be a Jewish doctor , regardless of age. Even wealthy antisemitic Christians only use Jewish doctors. And lawyers too. There’s probably a valid study on that and I’ll post the cites as soon as I find it.

  63. One alternate explanation for the findings may be that older, more experienced doctors are more likely (on average) to be referred sicker patients than younger doctors get. Patients with complex medical needs ARE more likely to die than patients with simpler problems, which might partially explain the difference.

  64. As an older person I prefer a doctor closer in age to myself. When I was younger I preferred someone in age closer to myself. I think this is true of most people. Older people are more likely to die. Flawed study.

      1. My personal experience so far says they may have something in the study but at the same time I think they’re trying to get the more expensive doctors out of the system.
        I personally had a 66 y/o doctor make a note of a marker of a certain type of cancer he felt in me in my file and never told anyone, including me, until the cancer eventually became almost untreatable. a I then had copies of my medical files sent to me and found his note.
        Also many retired doctors who serve the elderly homes have no problem with providing euthanasia services.

        1. a) A young doctormught just have easily made that same mistake

          b) Young doctors are all being indoctrinated into euthanasia and will be gleefully providing euthanasia services for not just the terminally ill, but for children whose quality of life is considered sub par.

          This is all the rage in Europe where child euthanasia was recently legalized.

          Progressives are reviving the NAZI’s T4 Program.

          1. Not according to the few younger, same discipline, doctors I questioned nonchalantly without reference to myself. The doctor in question didn’t miss anything, he just didn’t tell anyone but himself and notes that aren’t usually available to the patient but must be asked for. The real point is you need to be your own medical advocate and not take what they say at face value. If a doctor doesn’t like being questioned then find another doctor, after all it is your life.
            Population control has been the subject of the Bilderberg group and the G7 for quite some time now and they have been implementing it in a slow step by step progression for quite some time. They are heating the water slowly for the lobsters. 0bamaCare/HillaryCare II was created as a step for the US and let’s not even talk about Planned Parenthood.
            The sad part is, they’re right, the earth can’t support it’s human burden, but I don’t see them teaching the right people about the problem, only the ones they can control.

      2. Yes. It could also be that more experienced doctors (older) are in smaller hospitals without all the modern equipment and specialties. Younger doctors could tend to be in larger towns or closer to teaching hospitals. It could also be that older doctors have patients that have been with them for many years (meaning the patients are older). There are many angles to be explored rather than just age.

    1. “Patient deaths rose gradually as physicians aged, but the biggest gap…”

      Either a flawed study, or flawed conclusions drawn from the study. Older doctors tend to have older patients. And I’ve yet to see or hear about anyone who has permanently avoided death. I wonder how much the taxpayers paid for this nonsense?

    2. I had delicate heart surgery correcting a birth defect by a 68 year old doctor fifteen years ago. Come to find out, he was the second best in the world at this type of corrective surgery…second only to a physician in Japan. Even a Saudi crowned prince flew to my city for surgery by this elder doc.

  65. how bout some follow up reporting…. Older people usually have older doctors so is it people of similar ages being treated by different aged physicians or the more likely scenario that the older doctors actually have older patients who are more prone to serious illness?

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