Dr. Gene Dorio | Ageism and Its Role for Doctors

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor
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There are several certainties in the world, and one is we will age. But unfortunately, there are some unforeseen consequences other than graying and wrinkles wrought upon the older population.

For instance, as one in his 70s, nowadays I already know should I have a car accident, blaming fingers will point in my direction because of my age.  

I have had a driver’s license for almost 60 years, and luckily have not had an accident. Even if witnesses or videos substantiated I was not at fault, my age might influence those determining culpability.  

Not long ago, I tripped over a speed bump. I would like to say I was moving pretty fast, but at least I haven’t yet been tripped by a sandbag. Thank you President Joe Biden!

As a physician practicing for over 40 years, I wonder if my patients will decide I am too old and gray to render quality medical care, or if my experience and knowledge base will be seen as inadequate or antiquated.

I am lucky to have watched the evolution of my profession through technology, from opening a chest clearing coronary arteries, to robotics that require a small incision and going home the same day. Medication has controlled chronic diseases like diabetes, and allowed pills to reorganize DNA to cure cancer.

Does a younger physician have a better understanding of caring for patients, or can an older doctor still provide adequate medical care to sustain their patient’s quality of life? Does anyone remember the TV shows “Marcus Welby, M.D.,” “Dr. Kildare,” or “Ben Casey”?

Fortunately, doctors and other health care professionals are required to maintain their licenses through continuing education, while going to medical meetings and reading journals keeps me updated on the latest treatments.

How would the Medical Board know that I am not developing memory or mobility problems like Parkinson’s disease that might hamper my surgical skills?

Right now, there is no standard, criteria, or testing assuring the public that a doctor is fully capable of rendering worthy medical care. Of course, the same applies to many professionals, including politicians.

Getting back to driving: I can take a bus or get a ride through Lyft or Uber, or possibly I might have an autonomous car I’ll be able to blame should I get into an accident.

When walking, I am careful to slow down around speed bumps, and maintain a watchful eye for sandbags. But should my writings start to look like this:  — radivdw biefei seridv ewrsesa… — I hope someone will report me to the Medical Board!

Dr. Gene Dorio


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