There has been a debate for many years whether one should select a male or female doctor. Now, findings from a recent study suggest that a female doctor may just save your life.
The study included more than half a million heart patients admitted to the emergency room in Florida over the past 20 years. Findings show that the death rate for both men and women are much lower when the treating doctor is a female. Also, women who are treated by a male doctor are the least likely to survive. Other studies have also reported similar findings in the past. Two years ago, a Harvard study that looked at more than 1.5 million hospitalized patients also found that patients managed by a female doctor were less likely to die or be readmitted to the hospital over a 30-day period than those managed by male doctors
Similarly, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health analyzed the results of studies that focused on communication for doctors with patients. The researchers noted that female primary care doctors spent a long time listening to their patients compared to their male counterparts. However, spending too much time listening to a patient also came at a cost. A few extra minutes spent on each patient meant that there were scheduling delays which put them behind male doctors at the end of the day.
Dr. Nieca Goldberg, cardiologist, and author of the book ‘Women Are Not Small Men’ points out that these findings should not be taken as a criticism of male doctors but should instead empower patients to select doctors who will listen to them. “All doctors, whether they are a man or a woman, really set out to save a person’s life,” says Dr. Goldberg.
Dr. Goldberg who is currently the medical director of Women’s health at NYU Langone says that communication is vital for heart patients because the symptoms tend to be different in women and men. She states that chest pain is less common in women who are having a heart attack, but doctors frequently ask patients if they have chest pain to rule out the diagnosis of an MI. She also believes that female doctors take the time to explain things to their patients. Finally, it may be that women patients generally feel more comfortable speaking to female doctors or it could be that women doctors are more focused on the unique symptoms of heart disease in women.