Women more likely to survive heart attack if ER physician is female

Modesto Morganelli
Agosto 9, 2018

Back in 2016, Harvard researchers showed that elderly patients treated by female doctors were less likely to die or return to the hospital than if they were treated by a man. "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. Our research has already shown a worrying difference in the treatment given to men and women suffering from heart attacks, and inaccurate stereotypes may be a contributing factor.

She said: "The stereotypical heart attack patient is often thought to be a middle-aged man with a poor lifestyle".

For patients treated by female physicians, 11.8 percent of men died against about 12 percent of women. That gender disparity grew to 0.7% for patients in the care of male doctors: 13.3% of women died compared to 12.6% of men. This could help them to pick up on heart attacks, even if women have more atypical symptoms. A review of almost 582,000 heart attack cases over 19 years showed female patients had a significantly higher survival rate when treated by a woman, as opposed to a man.

That's because more and more studies are coming to the same conclusion: Female doctors produce better outcomes than men. That could mean that "female patients are more comfortable advocating for themselves with a female physician" or that "male physicians aren't getting all the cues they need to make the diagnosis" when dealing with female patients, he said.

Rather than rely on women to act as test dummies for inexperienced doctors, though, it'd better to just stock our emergency rooms and health care centres with more women doctors.

'One is that women tend to be more conscientious as doctors and have more social intelligence, so could pick up on signs of a heart attack.

This study offers a new explanation for why gender inequality in heart attack mortality persists.

"This study is different than others because it documents, for the first time (to our knowledge), increased survival rates for female heart attack patients who are treated by female physicians", Dr. Seth Carnahan, author of the study and assistant professor of strategy at Olin Business School, said in a statement to ABC News.

Female doctors may also simply be performing at least some parts of the job better than their male counterparts do.

"Finally", they write, "interesting opportunities for research exist in an examination of the role played by residents, nurses, and other physicians who may be present or provide information to the supervising physician...future work that considers these supporting figures would advance our understanding of how coordination between [all] healthcare providers might influence the relationship between physician-patient gender concordance and patient survival".

Why would women treated by male physicians be dying at a higher rate than those treated by female doctors even though they were admitted to the hospital?

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