Will you be more likely to die with a male doctor? Patients less likely to die if doctor is female…

The report by Kate Gibbons in in The Times and other newspapers on 20th December 2016 is an interesting read, and it has statistical power. “Patients less likely to die if doctor is female” is reprinted below. The study needs to be reproduced in the UK’s 4 services, where junior doctors are mainly female, and see if it applies. Justification of the bias in selection would be retrospective, and some consolation to those on waiting lists. If they do get admitted they are at least more likely to return home.

Image result for female doctors cartoon

Yusuke Tsugawa was the original author in JAMA Internal Medicine October 13th 2016, and the article has free on line access. There were over 1.5 million patients analysed for nearly 60,000 physicians. The gender distribution of the physicians is not mentioned, but as they have graduate entry we can assume it is equal male to female, (unlike the UK where undergraduate entry results in 80% females).  The report is about internal medicine and there is a readmission rate of around 250K patients in 30 days. The potential total lives saved in the USA would be 32K if this is valid and reliable, and is accounted for by a difference of 4% in outcomes. It says nothing about quality of life, cost, or future care needs.

Elderly hospital patients treated by women doctors are less likely to die than those in the care of men, research has indicated.

A study found that people aged 65 and over who received hospital care from a male doctor had an increased risk of dying within 30 days.

Female doctors were less likely to flout national care guidelines and had better communication with patients.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, was the first to examine how gender differences could affect mortality rates.

Analysis of more than a million patients aged 65 and over who had been in hospital for a variety of conditions, including diabetes, cancer and heart failure, found that those treated by a female doctor were on average 4 per cent less likely to die prematurely than those with a male doctor.

The researchers at Harvard University found that the differences were most significant for patients who had more severe conditions.

Yusuke Tsugawa, the study’s lead author, said: “The difference in mortality rates surprised us. The gender of the physician appears to be particularly significant for the sickest patients.”

Image result for female doctors cartoon

 

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This entry was posted in A Personal View, Junior Doctors, Professionals, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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