Female doctors deliver better patient outcomes, study suggests

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Female physicians linked to lower mortality and readmission rates, new study finds.

NEW YORK, April 23: New research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine highlights significant differences in patient outcomes based on the gender of their treating physician. The study, conducted by researchers from the University of California Los Angeles and the University of California San Francisco, suggests that individuals treated by female physicians experience lower mortality and readmission rates compared to those treated by male physicians.

Dr. Yusuke Tsugawa, a senior author of the study and an associate professor at the University of California Los Angeles, emphasized the impact of physician gender on patient health outcomes. “Female and male physicians practice medicine differently, and these differences have a meaningful impact on patients’ health outcomes,” stated Dr. Tsugawa in a press statement.

The researchers analyzed Medicare claims data spanning from 2016 to 2019, comprising over 458,100 female patients and 318,800 male patients. They found a notable disparity in mortality rates depending on the gender of the treating physician.

According to the study, female patients treated by female physicians had a mortality rate of 8.15%, whereas those treated by male physicians had a slightly higher mortality rate of 8.38%. Similarly, male patients treated by female physicians experienced a mortality rate of 10.15%, compared to 10.23% for those treated by male physicians.

Dr. Lisa Rotenstein, a co-author of the study and an assistant professor at the University of California San Francisco, highlighted differences in care delivery patterns between male and female physicians. Female physicians, she explained, tend to spend more time with patients, engage in shared medical decision-making, and deliver higher-quality care across various medical specialties.

Despite the growing recognition of the contributions of female physicians, disparities persist in the medical field. In 2022, females represented only 37% of physicians practicing in the United States, with significant variations across specialties.

Christopher Wallis, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, commented on the study’s findings, noting a systematic difference in patient outcomes based on physician gender. He emphasized the importance of understanding and addressing these disparities to improve patient care.

Reflecting on the study’s implications, Dr. Arghavan Salles, a clinical associate professor at Stanford University, urged male physicians to critically evaluate their practices and consider areas for improvement. She emphasized the need for curiosity and openness to enhance patient care, encouraging male physicians to learn from the findings and strive for better outcomes.

The study adds to a growing body of research underscoring the influence of physician gender on patient health outcomes, prompting calls for greater attention to gender disparities in medical practice.

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