Women With Heart Attack Do Better If Doc is Female

Ben Davidson
August 9, 2018

A new study suggests that hospitals have a good reason to hire more female physicians for their emergency department staff. Women experiencing heart attacks are more likely to survive when treated by a female doctor than a male doctor. "All of those are statistically indistinguishable except for male doctor-female patient", says Brad Greenwood, an author on the study and a data scientist at the University of Minnesota.

The researchers claim that, as most physicians are male, they appear to have more trouble treating women.

The US study looked at 580,000 emergency room admissions over 19 years to see how the gender of the doctor affected the outcome.

A study found that 13.3 per cent died after being treated by a man, against 12 per cent of those treated by a woman.

"Our work corroborates prior research showing that female doctors tend to produce better patient outcomes than male doctors", Carnahan said.

To put some numbers on these differences, the survival rate for men treated by female doctors is 88.1 percent, compared with 86.6 percent for women treated by male doctors-a reduction of 1.5 percentage points.

A female patient is also more likely to survive if a male doctor has recently treated more female patients, who may have had similar symptoms.

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"Even though lives should be equally saved, we are seeing this pervasive difference", says study co-author Laura Huang, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. While women enter medical school at the same rate as men, they experience higher rates of both burnout and suicide during their time in the field, and men are more likely to advance to higher positions - both largely attributable to gender bias.

Put another way, a heart attack patient dies in the ER about 11.9 percent of the time overall-but the research team found women with heart attacks will die about 12.4 percent of the time if their cases are handled by male doctors.

Another possible factor could be that female heart attack patients are entering hospitals with gender-specific symptoms that are more readily recognized by female physicians, Greenwood added. This means approximately one out of every 66 women with heart attacks dies in the emergency room if she sees a male doctor rather than a female one.

A couple years ago, there was a lot of buzz about research that showed that female doctors are better than male docs.

But the gender gap closed more than three-fold to 0.2% when female physicians took charge of treatment.

Notably, one out of 4 female deaths can be linked to heart attack, which is a leading cause of death for women in the United States, as per the CDC. "And male physicians could learn a thing or two from our female colleagues about how to achieve better outcomes". But a new study has revealed that, when it comes to certain conditions, whether your doctor is male or female could actually impact on your chances of survival. And, according to a new study, that's partly because of how women are treated-and the gender of the doctors who treat them.

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