Some new research studies suggest ways to find a good doctor by focusing on demographics. Older doctors who have reduced their caseloads may not be an optimal choice, one study suggests, while another finds that, for seniors sick enough to be hospitalized, women MDs excel. And doctors who are immigrants can be solid patient choices, a third study reports.
Let’s be clear: These studies are observational, and they focus on select measures of care. But they are based on big data, analyses of hundreds of thousands and even millions of cases. Your own individual experience with a clinician counts a ton, and must never be ignored. A doctor with a brilliant resume, golden accomplishments, and a sterling reputation can still treat you badly, even blunder with your care.
Still, after examining three years of data on more than 700,000 admissions and the outcomes of 19,000 doctors, researchers from Harvard Medical School and prominent Boston-area hospitals found that as MDs aged, mortality rates of their hospitalized patients climbed. For doctors younger than 40, the rate was 10.8 percent, while for those older than 60, it hit 12 percent.