Have you heard about the latest JAMA study? People with female doctors die less and are less likely to have to go back to the hospital.
The results of the recent Harvard study published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) confirms what several studies have previously shown: male and female physicians practice differently. Female physicians are more likely to adhere to clinical guidelines and evidence-based practice. Meaning that women tend to make treatment decisions more on scientific data and medical studies (the “evidence”) than men do.
Does this make a difference? Turns out it does. The Harvard researchers took a random sample of 1.5 million patients over the age of 65 who were admitted to the same hospital and assigned to the covering doctor. Over 960,000 women and 620,000 men were admitted over a 4 year period. The researchers specifically checked to ensure that their findings took into account that certain conditions were more severe than others. They also examined whether the differences in patient outcomes were due to the different doctors themselves and not just gender. Despite all the analysis, the results were unchanged across 8 common medical conditions and severity of illness. If your doctor was female, you had a lower risk of dying in the next 30 days and less chance of having to be readmitted.
There are many fantastic male physicians, this goes without saying. But next time a doctor dismisses your questions, or talks down to you, request a referral to another physician. And if you want to take advantage of the factors that favored the patients in the Harvard study, you can inquire about a female physician, it could make a difference.
Dr. Norleena Gullett is a Radiation Oncologist at Erlanger Cancer Institute in Chattanooga, TN. In addition to her medical expertise, she strives to offer emotional, psychological, and spiritual support in her care for her patients. She prides herself on treating you, the whole person, with the best care possible.