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New research indicates women who have heart attacks are more likely to survive if they have a fellow female treating them.
A multi-disciplinary team analyzed two decades of records from Florida emergency rooms, including every patient who had been admitted with a heart attack from 1991 to 2010. They showed that women are more likely to die when treated by male doctors, compared to either men treated by male doctors or women treated by female doctors.
“Female patients treated by male physicians were the least likely to survive. Survival rates were two to three times higher for female patients treated by female physicians compared with female patients treated by male physicians.”
The difference in survival rate was consistent even when the researchers accounted for other variables, such as the doctors’ years of experience, patients’ age, ethnicity, other diseases, educational level, and the hospitals where they were admitted.
“These results suggest a reason why gender inequality in heart attack mortality persists: Most physicians are male, and male physicians appear to have trouble treating female patients,” the team wrote.
The new study reinforces other research indicating heart attacks in women were often misdiagnosed or ignored due to a long history of focusing on heart disease symptoms in men. It also supports other evidence that women are simply better doctors.
In a 2016 study of roughly 1.6 million U.S. patients, Ashish Jha from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health found there would be 32,000 fewer deaths annually in the Medicare population “if male physicians had the same outcomes as female physicians.” Another recent study found “elderly hospitalized patients treated by female internists have lower mortality and readmissions compared with those cared for by male internists.”
The mounting evidence makes it all the more infuriating that female doctors are paid, on average, $105,000 less annually than their male counterparts.