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29th May 2017

The scary reason you might want to get yourself a younger doctor

Alison Bough

It turns out that respecting our elders could be bad for us…

A surprising new report, published in the British Medical Journal, has shown that having an older doctor can be harmful to your health. In fact, it can be terminal.

Although many of us believe that age brings wisdom and experience, researchers from Harvard University say that the age of your doctor may impact the quality of the care you receive, and even cut your chances of survival.

The large US study looked at data from more than 700,000 hospital admissions of elderly patients, cared for by nearly 19,000 physicians between 2011 and 2014. They found that mortality rates increased in conjunction with doctors’ ages:

Patients with doctors under the age of 40 had a 30-day mortality rate of 10.8 percent. For patients with doctors aged 40 to 49, mortality rates moved up to 11.1 percent, then to 11.3 percent with doctors 50 to 59, and 12.1 percent with doctors aged 60 or above.

Hmm. Mere coincidence you ask? Well, the research tea did adjust their statistics for a variety of variables, including overall hospital mortality rates and the severity of patients’ illnesses, but found that the age-related mortality trend was still significant overall.

No need to leave your nice old doc for a med student just yet though as the researchers were careful to point our that their study was ‘observational’ and more detailed work is required in order to confirm the results.