Why Picking a Female Doctor Could Save Your Life
Life and Leisure

Why Picking a Female Doctor Could Save Your Life

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A new study finds that female doctors have an edge over their male counterparts when it comes to patient care.

The study, published today by the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, find that hospitalized Medicare patients treated by female physicians had lower mortality rates and lower readmission rates, compared to those seen by male doctors at the same hospital.

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The study used medical records from more than 1.5 million hospital visits involving more than 58,000 doctors, and found that 30-day mortality rates for elderly patients treated by women was 11.1 percent, compared to 11.5 percent for those treated by men. While that may seem like a small difference, it translates to an additional 32,000 patient deaths for Medicare enrollees under the care of male physicians per year.

“The association was consistent across a variety of conditions and across patients’ severity of illness,” report authors wrote. “Taken together with previous evidence suggesting that male and female physicians may practice differently, our findings indicate that potential differences in practice patterns between male and female physicians may have important clinical implications for patient outcomes.”

Previous research cited in the paper has found that female doctors are more likely to practice “evidence-based” medicine, adhere to clinical guidelines and provide more patient-centered care.

In general, women in the study were younger than their male counterparts, treated fewer patients, and had slightly more female patients. Even so, the findings held even when researchers made adjustments for these factors, as well as length of stay, use of care, discharge location and other variables.