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Will Having a Female Doctor Save Your Life?

Posted December 31, 2016 12:00 AM by M-ReeD
Pathfinder Tags: doctors Gender illness

As a sick kid, I always preferred my mother’s approach to caregiving to my father’s approach. My father was no less loving of a parent than my mother, but his reaction to illness usually followed a dramatic template of gagging, visible disgust, and an eventual mirroring of our symptoms.

So, it came as no surprise to me that, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, female doctors had higher patient survival rates than male doctors in the United States.

The study analyzed the results from Medicare patients treated by 58,344 physicians between 2011 and 2014. The results: The risk of premature death for patients of female doctors (10.82%) was less than the risk for those of male doctors (11.49%). The risk of being readmitted into the hospital within thirty days of an initial admission was also lower for patients of female doctors (15.01%) than patients of male doctors (15.57%).

According to researchers, if this trend held for non-Medicare patients, the disparity would be even more significant, estimating that 32,000 fewer patients would die “if male physicians could achieve the same outcomes as female physicians every year.”

What is the explanation for the difference in numbers? While researchers couldn’t conclusively determine a reason for the disparity, they offered up a few possible explanations.

Ultimately, it was determined that women and men practice medicine differently, with women more likely adhering to clinical guidelines and counseling patients on preventive care and ordering preventive tests (pap smears, mammograms, etc.). Another theory is that overall, women are better communicators.

Another thought behind the findings includes a theory that healthier patients prefer female doctors.

While the study’s findings make intuitive sense (females being more nurturing, etc.), the study failed to take into account that, often, patients are treated by teams of doctors, both male and female.

Regardless of the findings, the researchers advise against oversimplifying the matter by going out and choosing a provider based solely on gender.

Do you have a gender preference when you are seeking medical treatment?

Image credit:

Day Donaldson / CC BY-SA 2.0

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#1

Re: Will Having a Female Doctor Save Your Life?

12/31/2016 10:53 AM

Although I have both male and female "ologists" my GP and my dermo are female and the rest are male.

I prefer females because they are just as mentally capable and probably worked harder in med school than their male counterparts.

My cardiologist seems removed from anything but the numbers and is obsessed with lowering my bad cholesterol to below 100 no matter how much it costs me.

At 70, I've already done a lot of damage to my heart and arteries and I'm not sure how much longer I'd live anyway.

Also, cynic that I am, I am aware that big pharma spends $24 billion/year marketing their latest(super expensive) drugs to doctors and only $3 billion marketing to the public.

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#2

Re: Will Having a Female Doctor Save Your Life?

12/31/2016 1:16 PM

Yes

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#3
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Re: Will Having a Female Doctor Save Your Life?

12/31/2016 1:23 PM

Don't apples repel doctors?

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#4
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Re: Will Having a Female Doctor Save Your Life?

12/31/2016 1:24 PM

She took mine away.

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#5
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Re: Will Having a Female Doctor Save Your Life?

12/31/2016 1:27 PM

Talk about a great bedside manner. With a look like that she could make me well again!

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#12
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Re: Will Having a Female Doctor Save Your Life?

01/01/2017 8:33 PM

About 25 years ago I had a female cardiologist who looked at lot like the physician in the photo. She was an excellent clinician and I always wish we had stayed in the medical system where she worked. My wife had other ideas.

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#6

Re: Will Having a Female Doctor Save Your Life?

12/31/2016 2:26 PM

So, did they account for the fact that maybe females prefer to have female doctors while a lot of men prefer male doctors. Women live longer than men.

(I've heard it said that slightly overweight women tend to live longer....than the men that call attention to the fact. )

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#7
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Re: Will Having a Female Doctor Save Your Life?

12/31/2016 3:53 PM

It doesn't make much difference what the gender of the doctor is when you're bent over the examination table getting a prostate exam, except that women, as a rule, may have more slender fingers.

Yes, I was uncomfortable the first time I went to a female doc. but I liken it to having a female pilot.

The co-pilot of this aircraft, Aloha Airlines Flt 243, was a woman.

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#8
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Re: Will Having a Female Doctor Save Your Life?

12/31/2016 5:14 PM

So she was giving you a complimentary prostate exam instead of flying the plane? Isn't that what autopilot is for?

"Just ignore the turbulence and cough already!"

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#9
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Re: Will Having a Female Doctor Save Your Life?

12/31/2016 7:54 PM

When the weather is nice in Hawaii, Aloha Airlines features open cockpit flights.

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#10

Re: Will Having a Female Doctor Save Your Life?

01/01/2017 12:02 PM

What I experienced is the older female doctors (over 35) are more empathetic, and take the time for you. The male doctors if you put your trust in them with no background research into the your ailments, just move you along,,... '"Next".

And your next visit to the male doctors they'll realize it you've done some research already and your next visit will be more thorough with more detailed explianations.

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#11

Re: Will Having a Female Doctor Save Your Life?

01/01/2017 5:06 PM

The point may be moot. 90% of Doctors I've seen are male. Perhaps that is just Britain, but it's a shameful situation. On the opposite side, most nursing staff (who often have excellent practical skills) are female. I'd consult a female doctor first if given the choice.

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#13

Re: Will Having a Female Doctor Save Your Life?

01/02/2017 9:42 AM

My step-son (CFO, incl. former risk manager) for a rather sizable hospital system offers this opinion: It is a very dynamic situation.

Women MD's, moving from entry level and more everyday (e. g., primary care) practices into higher risk practices are yet to be on a fully flat playing field with respect to outcomes across the spectrum of health care.

Also, it is hard to track full outcome accountability from the first contact physician of complex affliction to the physician(s) attending at the time of the defined ''cure'' or ''failure''. The first contact may be years and a dozen or so MD's from the outcome, but the first contact MD's misdiagnosis may be capital in the outcome, but largely forgotten.

He does agree that women MD's seem to gain higher patient approval when a program of care is established, and that when the prognosis is ''iffy'', the patient interaction features of women MD's may provide a positive bias in swinging the prognosis to a favorable outcome.

I grew up in a health care family. Of the several hundred practitioners (mostly MD's) that came through my life into adulthood, the candidate for No. 1 physician was the son of a Greek family fleeing the Ottomans. He was endowed with zen, never, ever had a day when he did not school himself, never ceased to explore within and beyond his specialty (thoracic surgery) into every imaginable aspect of health care. Medical students, interns, colleagues, etc. would observe his engaging a patient in awe. Among those who sought his tutelage, the description of ''almost divine transcendence'' emerged.

Yes, he was a medical zen master. The world needs to identify zen masters as children and nurture their zen into the fabric of humanity as adults. Does anyone know of an objective way to measure endowed zen in children?

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#14
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Re: Will Having a Female Doctor Save Your Life?

01/02/2017 9:46 AM

No,

but it sounds more like the 'mythical healer'.

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#15
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Re: Will Having a Female Doctor Save Your Life?

01/02/2017 10:43 AM

Those ''mythical healers'' of yesteryear may have actually intuited more ''healing'' than is historically acknowledged as the basis of the ''myth''. My childhood best friend's uncle, an ethnobotanist of some renown, spent a career rubbing his findings of aboriginal ''mythical healers'' in the face of his ''healing through modern chemistry'' colleagues. Patients do respond to zen in their healers.

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#16
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Re: Will Having a Female Doctor Save Your Life?

01/02/2017 11:08 AM

I meant 'mythical' in a positive way.

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#17

Re: Will Having a Female Doctor Save Your Life?

01/10/2017 6:14 AM

What - as opposed to female refuse collectors?

What nonsense.

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