One of the greatest attributes a physician can have is the ability to listen.
And two recent studies back up the importance of having that gift.
A Johns Hopkins study of nearly 600,000 heart patients admitted to emergency rooms in Florida revealed female physicians had the most success in preventing death; meanwhile, women treated by male doctors were least likely to survive.
The Johns Hopkins findings came on the heels of an earlier Harvard study of more than 1.5 million hospitalized Medicare patients that found when patients were treated by female doctors, they were less likely to die or be readmitted.
So what's the difference between male and female doctors?
In one study, female doctors waited three minutes before interrupting a patient; male doctors, meanwhile, waited just 47 seconds.
Researchers have stressed these findings aren't meant to disparage male doctors; the goal is to simply empower patients to find doctors who are willing to listen to them.
On a related matter, African-American men who see African-American doctors are more likely to follow advice about prevention and healthy lifestyles.
In a study of 702 black men in Oakland, California, 63 percent of black men assigned to a black doctor agreed to diabetes screening (compared to 43 percent of those assigned to white or Asian doctors).
So what is going on between black doctors and black patients?
The comments from patients suggested they had stronger personal and emotional connections with doctors who were also African-American.
It's important to stress what the study findings don't suggest: They don't suggest that only African-American doctors are able to make personal and emotional connections with black patients.
It's all about having physicians, regardless of their race or background, who are willing to listen to patients — and willing to listen with a sense of empathy that transcends any cultural differences.
Americans spend far more on health care than citizens of other developed countries, yet with no better results.
One reason is that some organizations in the health care system don't even know why they're charging the prices they charge patients, reports The Wall Street Journal.
In one case, a Wisconsin health care system had been charging $50,000 for a standard knee replacement; after an 18-month study, the organization calculated the procedure's true cost should have been just $10,500.
Clearly, there is no true free market in our health care system — and America badly needs that to begin reducing the amount of unnecessary spending that's taking place.
Measles: The Sequel
In 2000, measles was declared eliminated in America.
Last year, there were 118 people in 15 states and the District of Columbia who contracted measles, and the numbers could be even worse this year.
Foreign travelers often bring measles into the states, but too often, the American children who catch it have not been vaccinated.
People with legitimate religious reasons for eschewing vaccinations should have those beliefs respected, but those who refuse vaccinations based on purely personal reasons — which are often fueled by wild, outlandish myths — should not be able to use them as excuses to endanger the health of the general public.
REPRINTED FROM THE PANAMA CITY NEWS HERALD
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