While inexperience is an obvious disadvantage in surgery, being in the profession for decades is also one — apparently.  A small study on the influence of performance of surgeons published in BMJ finds that mid-career surgeons in their late 30s and 40s with 5 to 20 years of experience are the “safest.”Researchers at the University of Lyon in France examined operative complications from thyroid gland removals—a procedure typically performed the same way among all surgeons.  More than 3,500 operations by 28 surgeons were analyzed. Surgeons who were 35 to 50 years old with 5 to 20 years’ experience had better outcomes.

Not surprisingly, younger surgeons with fewer years of experience had poorer outcomes.  However, surgeons with 20 years or more of practice had a 3 times higher risk of a patient suffering recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy and more than 7 times the risk of hypoparathyroidism.

Physician’s Weekly wants to know…if you think a surgeon can be past his or her “prime” once past a certain age and/or in the profession too long. What other factors may contribute? Might older physicians take on more surgeries, making them more susceptible to burnout?