Patients With Female Doctors Fare Better Than Those With Male Docs

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Get yourself a female doctor, stat.

Want better chances at having a good medical experience? Then you’ll want to get a female doctor, says Harvard.

The study, which is certain to raise some eyebrows and possibly some arguments, suggests that patients who were treated by female doctors were less likely to end up dying or having to return to the hospital after being discharged, which, let's face it, is fantastic news.  

But is this because women are just naturally better caregivers than men? What causes this notable trend in patient care?

According to research, female doctors are more willing to follow recommendations regarding prevention counseling, and even order preventative tests to double check before they prescribe or diagnose any condition or ailment. These preventative tests can include Pap smears and mammograms, which are essential for determining a woman’s health in many cases.

These findings, which were published in JAMA Internal Medicine, point to something even more critical to patient health: the difference between life or death, it would seem. According to the study’s authors, they estimate “that approximately 32,000 fewer patients would die if male physicians could achieve the same outcomes as female physicians every year.”  

Ouch. This isn’t looking good for male doctors. But suggesting that gender has to do with saving lives in a hospital setting is a pretty radical claim to make. There is only about one-third of practicing female doctors, compared to the number of males in the healthcare industry, which, despite half of the US population being female, is still dominated by men.

The study’s authors admit that even they are “unable to identify exactly why female physicians have better outcomes” than their male counterparts. Perhaps it all boils down to women working harder in a male-dominated industry that, despite being advanced in many ways, still heavily favors paying men above what women in the same field make. Perhaps these same women feel an ever-increasing need to become the best so that they can rival men who are given a bit of an easier route.

However, it has also been suggested that women may end up taking better care of the patient simply because they are better communicators, in many instances. Having a doctor who listens to your needs and fears and takes them into account could be more beneficial than having a doctor who is less likely to talk through it with you and more likely to simply suggest a course of treatment.

Whatever the reason, the study’s findings are fairly sound, and the fact still stands that female doctors tend to save more lives than male doctors.

But this shouldn’t be oversimplified, and by no means should you simply choose a doctor based on gender. The best way to choose your doctor is to find someone you can feel comfortable with and communicate well to. If you feel that they aren’t taking your best interests to heart, then continue looking for another that will. And if she happens to be female, well... you’ll know you’re in good hands!

 

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