Male bias even in crucial surgeries: India

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Male bias even in crucial surgeries: India

The Times of India

Far Fewer Women Undergo Key Operations

Abantika Ghosh | TNN

New Delhi: Women get a raw deal even when they are sick and in need of costly treatment — that’s what statistics from five prominent city hospitals seem to suggest. The gender figures of patients undergoing major surgeries in both government and private hospitals are distinctly skewed — in favour of males.

At Apollo, of all surgeries (costing above Rs 50,000) done in 2006, only 36% were on women. At GTB (for government hospitals figures of surgeries costing Rs 10,000 or above were collated), in five departments for which surgery figures were available for October-December 2006, the total percentage of female patients was 39.4. The only department with a tilt in favour of females was ophthalmology where 53% patients were females.

Though the incidence of coronary artery disease is known to be more in men, the disparity in the surgery figures, says Dr Ashok Seth, chief of the Max Heart and Vascular Institute, shows ‘‘other factors’’ are responsible too. ‘‘It’s true that 60% of the spend on cardiac ailments is on men but that alone does not give the whole picture. The male-female ratio for invasive procedures is 5:1. Female heart problems often go undiagnosed. Plus, if it’s a man, the consensus in the family about whether to go ahead with an invasive procedure is usually reached more easily,’’ he says.

The ‘dropout rate’ when advised an invasive test/procedure is about 60% among women; for males, it is about 30%, says Dr Seth. ‘‘Interestingly, men are usually more open to undergoing invasive tests, while women will come to the doctor only in the really advanced stage.’’

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