The Patients Doctors Don’t Know

The 2008 Institute of Medicine report “Retooling for an Aging America” resolved that all licensed health care professionals should be required to demonstrate such competence in the care of older adults. But this resolution lacks teeth. Medical resident training programs that receive Medicare money should be required to demonstrate that their trainees are competent in geriatric care. Medicare should finance medical training in nursing homes. And state licensing and medical specialty boards should require demonstration of geriatric competence for licensing and certification.

Basic geriatric knowledge is preventive medicine. Nurses, social workers, pharmacists and other health care professionals should have it, too, in order to improve care for older people. But until doctors get this basic training, we can’t even begin to give 80-year-olds the care they need.

Rosanne M. Leipzig, a physician, is a professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

© The New York Times