Are Female Doctors Safer Than Their Male Counterparts?

Should you choose a female doctor?A new JAMA Internal Medicine article has good news for senior citizens receiving treatment from female doctors. They may have better patient outcomes. According to the Harvard doctors responsible for the article, senior citizen patients treated by women had lower mortality rates within 30 days of admission.

The data shows 11.07 percent patients treated by female doctors died within 30 days of admission, compared to 11.49 percent of patients treated by male doctors. This accounts for tens of thousands of patients. The differences in patient outcomes persisted for multiple health conditions, including kidney failure, irregular heartbeat, sepsis and pneumonia.

Researchers also accounted for the age, income and gender of patients, and severity of illness upon admission. Despite adding these factors in the analysis, the differences in patient outcome remained.

This study analyzed 1.5 million hospitalizations occurring between 2011 and 2014. To gather data, researchers reviewed cases involving 18,751 female and 39,593 male internal medicine doctors.

Does A Doctor’s Gender Affect Patient Outcomes?

Not only were the differences in patient outcomes too large to occur by chance, but the researchers accounted for many other factors that could have skewed the results. The fact that the differences remained is surprising. Why would senior patients experience better outcomes when receiving treatment from female doctors? Are female doctors more compassionate?

The researchers behind this study want to discover why this difference occurred, especially because of the implications for patient safety. According to the data gathered in this study, 32,000 senior citizens could be saved every year if they received medical treatment from women instead of men.

Unfortunately, male and female doctors can make mistakes. A British Medical Journal study claims medical mistakes are a major cause of death in the United States. Patients harmed by medical mistakes or their family members should consult with a medical malpractice attorney to explore possible legal options.


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