When Treated By Female Physicians, Elderly Patients Exhibit Lower Mortality

According to recent research, it appears that females may, in fact, have the magic touch. When elderly patients are hospitalized and treated by female physicians, they are less likely to pass away within 30 days of admission. They are also less likely to be readmitted within 30 days when compared to their male physician counterparts.

Based on this recent study, which was the first of its kind, researchers documented differences between male and female doctors, and how the treatment they provide results in different outcomes among hospitalized Americans. What is the reason behind these unique differences?

Study Finds — Female Physicians Reduce Elderly Mortality Rates

When you see the doctor, have you ever given your appointment much thought regarding whether or not they were male or female? Well, according to researchers, it is estimated that if male doctors were achieving the same outcomes as female physicians, there would be approximately 32,000 fewer deaths among Medicare patients alone.

To put this into perspective, this number is the same figure as annual car accident deaths. That’s a lot of people, and if there’s some way to alter their fate, these factors should be addressed. Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the lead author admitted that the mortality rates surprised him and his colleagues.

While examining these differences, they appear to be particularly significant among the sickest patients. Meaning, different practice patterns associated with male and female doctors may have some key clinical implications. This has been seen within past studies, as female physicians tend to:

  • Be more likely to adhere to clinical guidelines
  • Offer patient-centered communication

This study, however, is the first to look at whether these difference impacts clinical outcomes. After analyzing over 1 million Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 years and older, hospitalized with a medical condition between 2011 and 2014, it was clear that when treated by a female, patients had a lower risk of dying.

More specifically, if treated by a female physician, patients experienced a 4 percent lower relative risk of premature death, as well as a 5 percent lower risk of being readmitted within 30 days. The researchers adjusted for illness severity and this association was still seen across a wide range of clinical conditions.

When it comes to female physicians, they now account for around 33 percent of the American physician workforce, in addition to half of all U.S. medical school graduates. The authors stated that there are not only differences regarding how female physicians treat their patients, but also how they’re treated themselves.

Unfortunately, the gender gap still exists, as females are less likely to be promoted and are generally paid less than males, even if they work within an identical role. As you would expect, researchers are now interested in why female physicians have lower mortality rates so that each and every patient has the best possible chance of recovery and survival.

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