Published: Thu, August 09, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Women Heart Attack Patients Do Much Better When Treated By Female Doctors

Women Heart Attack Patients Do Much Better When Treated By Female Doctors

This review of records also confirms growing research that shows how heart attacks can be different for women - and the way doctors assess and treat them can differ, too.

This is the incredible claim being made by Harvard Business School researchers who said that their research shows a female heart attack victim is more likely to survive if treated by a female physician. However, the authors think that men might not be good at communicating with female patients that might have led them to misunderstand how severe is the heart attack.

Men might be worse at communicating with female patients, causing them to misread the severity of the heart attack.

Women suffering from a heart attack are more likely to wait before seeking medical treatment and are less likely to be taken to a properly-equipped hospital, making them almost twice as likely (12 percent) to die in the hospital than men.

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?

"Such research might include experimental interventions or tests of more targeted training to examine how exposing male physicians more thoroughly to the presentation of female patients might impact outcomes", the team said.

"You have highly trained experts with life or death on the line, and yet the gender match between the physician and the patient seems to matter a great deal", said Carnahan, one of a handful of new faculty at the Olin Business School.

And because heart attacks come about suddenly, patients are rarely able to choose their doctor - or his or her gender - when entering an emergency department.

Researchers found that the more women a male doctor treated in his life, the less likely his female patients were to die.

Interestingly, the "gender bias" diminished when there were more women in the emergency department, and as men treated more women.

However, the team found that when patients shared the same gender as their doctor, they were more likely to survive, with the probability of death falling by just over 0.6 percentage points once factors including the patients' age, other health problems, the physician, and hospital-specific differences were taken into account.

As the study is observational, it does not provide any strong answer to why male doctors flag behind.

It can not prove it was the presence of female doctors that caused the improved survival rates. The gap widens with time: By five years after a heart attack nearly half of women die, compared with 36 percent of men. "[Or] it could be because women are more likely to present atypically and female physicians are better at picking up cues than their male colleagues". "Female physicians may communicate better, with less medical jargon". Maybe they're directly teaching their male colleagues how to diagnose or treat women with heart attacks.

That's because more and more studies are coming to the same conclusion: Female doctors produce better outcomes than men.

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