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I recently read an article by Dr. Robert Ashley who compared the younger doctors vs. the older doctors. We have always believed that the older doctors had more experience and thus, were more reliant to care for us. Not true. Sorry my older doctor friends.
Recently a study was published in the British Medical Journal where the authors analyzed data on Medicare patients over 65 who were hospitalized between January 1, 2011 and Dec. 31, 2014. Hospitalists were the physicians caring for them. They were divided into four age groups and the mortality rates of their patients in the first 30 days after hospital admission was studied. Physicians of the youngest group had an average age of 35. In the oldest group, they had an average age of about 64. About 10,177 physicians were younger than 40 and 1,086 were older than 65 in this study.
The findings were that those physicians younger than 40 had a 30-day patient death rate of 10.8% and those over 65 had a 12.1% death rate.
One of the greatest disparities was noticed among doctors who took care of fewer than 90 patients in the hospital per year. No age difference in the death rate among doctors who took care of more than 201 patients per year was noted.
The cost of neither care nor the 30 days re-admission rate was significantly different between the older and younger doctors. The study authors did mention that the patients seen by the older physicians had slightly more patients with congestive heart failure, lung disease, diabetes, neurologic disorders and mental illness. Combining the higher mortality rate for the maladies, this small difference could explain the very slight discrepancy in the death rate seen with the oldest group of doctors.
As always, it seems to me that many of those doctors seeing patients with less serious problems than mentioned above for the older doctors, would naturally have a better rate of treating their patients to avoid death. Maybe the best way to choose your physician would be by referral from someone you know with a serious illness.
Believing in the doctor you do choose will definitely give you a sense of being cared for and make it easier to follow his/her instructions with complete confidence.
In this day and age a second opinion is always available and with all the research out there, you can gain a lot of confidence in your treatment through your own research. Just be sure that the research you do get is from a reliable source and accurate. Do not just take word of mouth from an article or site, but also be sure what you are looking at is documented information.
Dr Fredda Branyon