Association Between Emergency Physician's Age and Mortality of Medicare Patients Aged 65 to 89 Years After Emergency Department Visit

Ann Emerg Med. 2023 Sep;82(3):301-312. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2023.02.010. Epub 2023 Mar 23.


Study objective: To determine the association between emergency physicians' ages and patient mortality after emergency department visits.

Methods: This observational study used a 20% random sample of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries aged 65 to 89 years treated by emergency physicians at EDs from 2016 to 2017. We investigated whether 7-day mortality after ED visits differed by the age of the emergency physician, adjusting for patient and physician characteristics and hospital fixed effects.

Results: We observed 2,629,464 ED visits treated by 32,570 emergency physicians (mean age 43.5). We found that patients treated by younger emergency physicians had lower mortality rates compared with those treated by older physicians. Adjusted 7-day mortality was 1.33% for patients treated by emergency physicians aged less than 40 years, 1.36% (adjusted difference, 0.03%; 95% confidence interval [CI], -0.001% to 0.06%) for physicians ages 40 to 49, 1.40% (0.08%; 95% CI 0.04% to 0.12%) for physicians ages 50 to 59, and 1.43% (0.11%; 95% CI 0.06% to 0.16%) for those with a physician age of 60 years and more. Similar patterns were observed when stratified by the patient's disposition (discharged vs admitted), and the association was more pronounced for patients with higher severity of illness.

Conclusions: Medicare patients aged 65 to 89 years treated by emergency physicians aged under 40 years had lower 7-day mortality rates than those treated by physicians aged 50 to 59 years and 60 years or older within the same hospital. Potential mechanisms explaining the association between emergency physician age and patient mortality (eg, differences in training received and other unobservable patient/physician characteristics) are uncertain and require further study.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Hospitalization
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Medicare*
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians*
  • United States / epidemiology