Physicians Facing Legal Difficulties in Working Through Retirement Age 

28 Jan, 2024 F.J. Thomas


Sarasota, FL ( – Recent reports have shown that over 145,213 providers left the healthcare industry from 2021 through first quarter of last year. Like other industries, worker age is part of the conversation in healthcare shortages. According to a recent American Medical Association (AMA) interview, while around 42 percent of the American population is 65 and older, the same rings true for medical providers. Just under half of all physicians, at 42 to 45 percent, are aged 65 and over. A 2020 Physician Census found that 12 percent of practicing physicians were over the age of 70.

With the looming shortage of healthcare providers, it’s critical that physicians consider retiring later as a way to lessen the shortages ahead. While employers need physicians with experience to meet the increasing need of patient access, some older physicians are finding that working through their retirement years is an uphill battle. 

Late last year, 84-year-old ophthalmologist Lylas G. Mogk, MD, filed a federal lawsuit against Henry Ford Health and Henry Ford Medical Group in federal court claiming that their required cognitive test violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and two Michigan laws. The lawsuit is based on a 2020 case against Yale New Haven Hospital for requiring physicians aged 70 or older to undergo neuropsychological and eye examinations when applying for new or renewed privileges. 

In another announcement last month, Scripps Clinical Medical Group settled a $6.875 million age and disability discrimination charge filed with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  As part of the settlement, Scripps will be required to have leadership review and revise as necessary their policies and procedures against discrimination based on age and disability, and share the information. 

Per a recent Medscape report, in line with California law, Scripps medical adopted a mandatory retirement age of 70 for physicians employed in their Medical groups, regardless of their ability. Scripps later rescinded the policy in 2018. 

According to a 2018 California Medical Board meeting agenda, 50 percent of older physicians referred to boards for regulatory matters related to performance had cognitive difficulties. Additionally, the agenda stated that, “older physicians are more prone to cognitive impairment, substance abuse, depression, and physiologic decline.” 

The Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act states that employers are not allowed to "fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of such individual's age”. In certain cases of public safety, there are exceptions. In California’s case, physicians over 70, and executives over the age of 65 are cases where mandatory retirement is permitted. 

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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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