Should all patients be treated the same?

If a woman is a lawyer, or the wife of a lawyer, does she get better treatment?  Lawyers seem to be regarded by doctors as especially litigious patients who should be treated with caution when it comes to risky procedures such as surgery.  The rate of hysterectomy in the general population in Switzerland was 16 percent, whereas among lawyers’ wives it was only 8 percent — among female doctors it was 10 percent.  In general, the less well educated a woman is and the better private insurance she has, the more likely it is that she’ll get a hysterectomy.  Similarly, children in the general population had significantly more tonsillectomies than the children of physicians and lawyers.  Lawyers and their children apparently get better treatment, but here, better means less.

That is from Gerd Gigerenzer’s Gut Feelings: the Intelligence of the Unconscious.  It is a good microeconomics question to ponder the conditions under which a) this is efficient, and b) you would rather be the poorer patient or the non-lawyer than the lawyer. 


Comments for this post are closed