Although some people still think that male doctors “know their stuff” better than their female counterparts, a new study by Dr. Ashish Jha, an internist, and professor at Harvard medical School suggests that women may possess more of a “healing touch, especially when it comes to treating older hospital patients.” In fact, according to his study, seniors hospitalized with an illness such as heart failure, pneumonia, intestinal bleeding, lung disease and urinary infections were slightly alter “to go home alive” within a month of treatment than those attended to by male physicians.
In addition, they were less likely to be re-admitted for the same illness within 30-days of being released. At the same time, it should be noted that the rates of mortality were small, 11% for those attended to by women versus 11.5% for those attended to by men.
Still, Dr. Jha and his team of male researchers even went as far as to estimate that there would be close to 32,000 fewer deaths in the US each year if male doctors “performed at the same level as female physicians. Their conclusions came after examining data regarding more than 1.5 million Medicare patients over the age of 65 between January 2011-December 2014.
While they did not hint at ”compassion,” the researchers did note that women were more prone to provide preventative care, follow accepted protocols for treatment, and were better at listening to and communicating with patients on personal levels. These qualities were also noted by a similar study conducted at the University of Montreal back in 2013.
In the meantime, Jha emphasized that his study did not mean to discourage patients from going to him or any other man for medical care just because of their gender, although he believes it is important information that should be shared with all physicians to improve overall care.
It should be also be noted that not all woman doctors treat their patients the same way, nor do all male doctors show a lack of empathy attributed to their female counterparts. In fact, while many women feel more comfortable with female doctors, large numbers prefer dealing with males, while many men have similar preferences when it comes to dealing with doctors of different genders.
Still, other people don’t really care one way or the other, just as long as they have confidence in their physicians’ ability to treat them the best way possible, and are both willing and able to make themselves available to address their concerns as needed.
We would be interested to know how you feel.