Human faculties-even those of surgeons-deteriorate with age, but there is great variability. Decisions about competency, therefore, should be based on functional age rather than chronologic age. This argues against a mandatory retirement age and argues for an objective evaluation of functional age. Such an assessment would balance the dignity of a committed practitioner and his or her value to society with patient safety and liability risk. One way to do this is presented, namely The Aging Surgeon Program, a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, objective, and confidential evaluation. Both the surgeon and society deserve no less.
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