Do Female Docs Provide Better Care to Their Hospitalized Patients Than Male Counterparts?

  1. According to Medicare data analysis, "elderly hospital patients seen by female internists were less likely to die or be readmitted in the short run than those treated by male physicians."

    The results of a study approved by the Harvard Medical School Institutional review Board and published in JAMA today show "the advantages associated with female physicians persisted across eight common medical conditions and across patients' severity of illness".

    "There is evidence in the primary care setting suggesting that, compared with male physicians, female physicians are more likely to practice evidence-based medicine, perform as well or better on standardized examinations, and provide more patient-centered care. Patients of female primary care physicians also experience fewer emergency department visits compared with patients of male primary care physicians."
    What do you think female doctors do differently than male doctors?

    Do you have a preference for the gender of your physician(s)? If so, what is this preference based on?

    For more about this study, please go to:

    Comparison of Hospital Mortality and Readmission Rates for Medicare Patients Treated by Male vs Female Physicians
    Last edit by Joe V on Dec 27, '16
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  2. 35 Comments

  3. by   TheCommuter
    I would hate to sound sexist or make sweeping generalizations, but I feel many female providers have the intuition that something is going wrong and intervene before it becomes a catastrophe.

    A patient could have normal vital signs, good lab results and other markers of a stable condition. However, that 'spidey, tingly sense' tells an intuitive provider that something just ain't right. In spite of years of allopathic medical training, a good provider will not dismiss the power of intuition and gut feelings in healthcare.

    Moreover, female providers often have different communication styles than their male counterparts. Men listen to patients with a focus on solving the problem at hand, whereas women absorb the full context in which the listening occurs. This might cause patients to feel more at ease when chatting with female doctors.

    In most cases I do not have a preference for the gender of my physicians. However, I prefer female counselors and psychotherapists.
  4. by   Asystole RN
    There are too many variables that were not fully examined in this study to make much of it. They used physician age as a metric but were unable to use physician practice experience since the data was missing from nearly half of the physicians.

    They also point out that male physicians tended to treat more (37% more) patients per year but did not delve into that number more. I would suspect that those those physicians who treated the most patients per year may have a higher mortality compared the physicians with a more relaxed workload.

    This study raised more questions for me than answered.
  5. by   loriangel14
    What I find where I work is that female doctors are more receptive to input and concerns from nursing staff. They don't discount our assessments just because we are "only " nurses. If we think something is up they don't just brush it off.
  6. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from Asystole RN
    There are too many variables that were not fully examined in this study to make much of it. They used physician age as a metric but were unable to use physician practice experience since the data was missing from nearly half of the physicians.

    They also point out that male physicians tended to treat more (37% more) patients per year but did not delve into that number more. I would suspect that those those physicians who treated the most patients per year may have a higher mortality compared the physicians with a more relaxed workload.

    This study raised more questions for me than answered.
    I agree. Way too many variables that were not fully examined.

    Anecdotally, I've found the local male physicians, for the most part, more receptive and better at diagnosing what is wrong and how better to treat.

    Anecdotally, my first pregnancy (33 years ago) was followed by a female ob/gyn who spent very little time with me at all. But her husband ran her office and wanted her to make as much money as possible so her schedule was packed. I wonder if they are still married.
  7. by   Been there,done that
    My physician is female. Female physicians " provide more patient-centered care."..
    because they LISTEN.
  8. by   RiskManager
    I think the physician age, years of practice and patient load is key. We have seen similar risk management literature ostensibly providing that female physicians have lower rates of malpractice claims, and yet when you control for age and years of practice, the differences pretty much go away. Female physicians, at least at the time of these risk management studies, tended to be younger, have less years of experience, and have fewer patient encounters.
  9. by   amoLucia
    When given an option, I select female physicians. Then if I am seeing a male provider, I'll try the female NP if possible. As long as I feel she is competent, I'll schedule with her.

    Way back, I remember my first female practitioner - an OBGYN. I loved her - she warmed the speculum!

    Women practitioners - they just 'know' and they 'listen'.

    In the NHs where I've been, the female Docs, esp those in a group, were just more receptive and collegial with nurses. And I believe their care was more comprehensive.
  10. by   pixierose
    Interesting.

    In my own experiences, I haven't found female physicians to provide more patient centered care... even in my mental health.

    My first PCP was awful. Never listened, rushed me out the door, always invited the pharmaceutical reps to come in first before patients ... and SHE missed several big health issues that my new female PCP caught because she actually listened. My first rheumatologist misdiagnosed me ... her clientele was enormous and again, very rushed. My new male rheumatologist does not rush with patients, despite having a huge practice. HE has more years of practice than my former rheumatologist, which may help a bit. He runs late at times, but patients don't mind very much because we know why. My male OB was amazing, but my new female OB is just as good.

    My preference is based on many factors, but not gender. I do now choose my practitioners based on word of mouth; this is how I decided on my new PCP, rheumatologist, and psychiatrist. I lucked out with my OBGYN - she was the only one accepting new patients. If I limited it to gender, I would miss out on exceptional care.
  11. by   Garden,RN
    I would also add to your list the osteopathic training. That may also have something to do with it.
  12. by   BSN16
    We have one specific female hospitalist that never wants her patients to transfer from the ICU it seems. Even after all other docs on the case have ok'd them to transfer she is very reluctant, "Just one more night in the ICU"

    That being said, she is overly cautious it seems and probably not because she is a woman. Im sure she has lower readmission rates though lol
  13. by   Wile E Coyote
    Quote from RiskManager
    I think the physician age, years of practice and patient load is key. We have seen similar risk management literature ostensibly providing that female physicians have lower rates of malpractice claims, and yet when you control for age and years of practice, the differences pretty much go away. Female physicians, at least at the time of these risk management studies, tended to be younger, have less years of experience, and have fewer patient encounters.
    This study's authors claim to have controlled for all of that, and yet the gaps remained.

    One of the more objective findings that stand out for me, is that the female docs were statistically more likely to stick to practice guidelines vs their male counterparts.
  14. by   BostonFNP
    You go girls!

    I hope that male providers invest their efforts in learning from their female colleagues what they can do to improve their outcomes rather than focusing on how to discredit the growing body of data. I am surprised they didn't use the discharging physician, at least for the readmit rates, but every study has it's quirks.

    Couple this with the fact that females get paid less for the same work...

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