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We said it's OK on the day we said nothing

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Apr. 24th, 2008 | 08:17 pm
location: virus-land, apart from a brief foray into here
mood: predatorypredatory

loneraven has been playing me Indelicates' "Our daughters will never be free," and this made me feel a little bit personally responsible, for not saying things often enough. Here is a situation that happened recently, when I said nothing because I didn't know what to possibly say.

Medic students and tutors had convened to hear about the research projects that us *3rd years* (safety in numbers, rather than descriptive words beginning with F!) had done. One medic (who shall remain nameless) mentioned that in oxfordshire, out of 500 patients with cardiovascular illnesses he was studying, there was a trend that on average men received treatment for their illness 2 years earlier, and survived 3 years longer, than women.

Brings back first year medical sociology, namely a study (Schulman, K. A., et al., (1999) NEJM 340:618-626) where researchers showed  videos of 4 actors describing symptoms of the same condition, and consultant cardiologists were asked to recommend treatment. The outcome is too obvious - the elderly white man gets coronary bypass surgery, the elderly black woman is sent home and told to stop worrying.

So I raised my hand, and asked, "Medical student who shall remain nameless, why do you think there is a difference between how long men and women with heart disease seem to survive?" His response was, "Maybe the wives are so busy nagging their husbands to take their pills that they forget to take their own." This person may, in future, become a doctor. All the other students and tutors heard this, and said nothing.

So what should I have said?

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