“The study’s authors estimate ‘that approximately 32,000 fewer patients would die if male physicians could achieve the same outcomes as female physicians every year.’” Which if you think about it, means male physicians are saving taxpayers a lot of extra Medicare dollars. Which is a ridiculous thing to say, right?
So now we have a study that as much as declares that women are better doctors than men – after all, what could be a better benchmark than mortality? According to this study, “The patients had 4 percent lower odds of dying within a month after being admitted to the hospital and a 5 percent smaller chance of repeat hospitalizations within the first month after leaving the hospital.” Why did someone even think to study this? Isn’t trying to find a gender difference blatantly sexist? When do we run a study to see if minority, non-English-as-first-language doctors do better than the patriarchal traditionalists?
“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.” Oh hell yeah, NOW we’re talking. A study of Medicare i.e. government patients run by a Harvard investigator damn sure better wave the “quality” flag, or else. And yet neither the study, nor the fawning editorials can actually define the basis for purported superior female performance.
“An editorial about the study urges doctors to remedy the gender disparities in care and the pay gap that favors male physicians over women.” Good, they got that obligatory check in the block.
“Still, the findings that female internists provide higher quality care should push hospitals to do a better job of promoting and paying women, who typically earn less and have fewer opportunities for advancement,” say Dr. Anna Parks and Dr. Rita Redberg of the University of California. “Some have suggested that home responsibilities might contribute to female physicians providing inferior care and thus justify these disparities…The data from this paper should serve to highlight these inequities – female physicians provide equivalent or potentially better care compared to male colleagues yet get promoted less often and have lower salaries than their male colleagues. We want to close that gap.”
There was no statistically significant difference in gender readmission rates for CHF, GI bleeds, and UTI’s; why was there a gender statistical difference for sepsis, pneumonia, renal failure, and arrhythmias?
I don’t know what, precisely, but something is nonsensical about this study and all the fashionable commentary attached to it. Every one of us has worked with some damn fine female physicians, some truly worthless male physicians, and vice versa. I have bitched about XY hospitalists not taking an admission just because it was a critical bounce-back, and I’ve complained the same about their lady counterparts. While I have not collated the data on a million Medicare patients, I know what I see every day, and it ain’t this.
“The study is observational and doesn’t explain why there might be better outcomes with female doctors, the researchers note. It’s possible that gender serves as a marker of differences in practice patterns that might influence outcomes.” Uh-huh. Does anyone think that a study showing better outcomes with male physicians would ever see the light of day?
Under “Limitations”, the authors note, “we could not capture respondents who were transgender … Any misclassification in self-reported sex would likely bias our estimates toward the null.” That about sums it up for me.Tweet