Doctor complaints are a predictable yet stressful part of being a medical professional. The causational factors of complaints are mostly ones that physicians can proactively control, like their level of friendliness and courtesy, or the ability to be professional and empathetic. But according to a study recently released in JAMA Ophthalmology, an uncontrollable determinant, physician age, has emerged as a significant contributor to unsolicited patient complaints.
The good news is that if you’re an older physician, you have a much less likely chance of having your patient file a complaint against you. Researchers from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee reviewed 1,392 doctors and found that increased physician age correlated to a decreased number of patient complaints. The median age for a participating physician was 47, with 9% of physicians over the age of 71. Those over 70 had the least amount of complaints, as well as a longer mean time before patients filed a complaint. On the flip side, another study found that having an older physician is associated with a higher patient mortality rate.