NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 24, 2005

Young doctors are more likely to practice according to the latest medical standards than older doctors, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Niteesh Choudhry, a Harvard Medical School instructor, and other researchers found:

  • More than 70 percent of doctors showed declines in performance over time.
  • In a 2000 study of heart attack patients, mortality rates rose by 1 percent for every two years since a patient's doctor graduated from medical school.
  • Young doctors are more likely to use "evidence-based medicine," which is treatments and drugs that are based on clinical trials, while older doctors bases decisions more on training and experience.
  • Young doctors are more comfortable using hand-held computers, electronic medical records and searching the Internet.

Despite the challenge of new technology and treatment methods, older doctors may have a stronger relationship with long-time patients as well as more practical experience than their younger counterparts.

Indeed, the challenge, according to Mary Frank of the American Academy of Family Physicians, is finding better ways for doctors to stay updated on the latest medical advances.

Sources: Liz Szabo, "Older Doctors Try to Keep Up," USA Today, February 14, 2005; Niteesh K. Choudhry, et al., "Systematic Review: The Relationship Between Clinical Experience and Quality of Health Care," Annals of Internal Medicine, No. 142, Issue 4, February 15, 2005.

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