Blog | Tuesday, October 22, 2013

QD: News Every Day--Female doctors offered better care, while males were more productive, study finds

Female doctors provided better quality of care when treating elderly diabetic patients, while male doctors were more productive, a study found.

Researchers at the University of Montreal studied billing information of over 870 Quebec practitioners (half of whom were women) who were treating elderly diabetic patients. The Canadian Diabetes Association guidelines state all patients aged 65 and over with diabetes must undergo an eye exam by an ophthalmologist or optometrist every 2 years. They must also receive three prescriptions for specific drugs, including statins, and are recommended to undergo a complete medical examination annually.

Results appeared in the Revue d’Épidémiologie et de Santé Publique (Journal of Epidemiology and Public Health).

Women had significantly rates of compliance with practice guidelines. They were more likely than men to prescribe recommended medications and to plan required examinations, researchers noted. Among middle-aged doctors, 3 out of 4 women required their patients to undergo an eye examination, compared to 70% of their male counterparts. Also, 71% of women prescribed recommended medications compared to 67% of male doctors. A similar proportion of women prescribed statins, 68% compared to 64%. Finally, 39% of female doctors specifically asked their patients to undergo a complete examination compared to 33% of male doctors.

But in terms of productivity, male doctors reported an average of nearly 1,000 more procedures per year compared to women. Age of the doctor was also a factor. The younger the doctors, the less significant the differences.

Researchers noted in a press release that while a more productive doctor would seem more profitable for a hospital, doctors who take the time to explain problems to their patients may avoid these patients returning after a month because they are worried about missing details.