Study Shows That Fewer Patients Die When Their Doctors Are Women

Hospital patients in Connecticut and across the country may wish to breathe a sigh of relief if their primary care physician is a woman according to a study published in a leading peer-reviewed medical journal. The research suggests that the lives of 32,000 Medicare patients could be saved each year if male doctors performed as well as their female counterparts. This is roughly equal to the annual death toll on America’s roads. The results of the study were published online on Dec. 19 by JAMA Internal Medicine.

The Harvard University researchers also discovered that hospital patients aged 65 years and older were more likely to be readmitted within a month of being discharged when a male doctor provided their primary care. The researchers did not speculate about why female doctors seem to perform better than male physicians, but previous studies have found that women are more likely to adhere to strict practice guidelines than men and tend to spend more time with their patients.

The research team studied the cases of 1.5 million Medicare patients aged 65 years or older who were hospitalized between 2011 and 2014. Factors such as age, gender and income were taken into consideration, and it was discovered that patients treated by a woman doctor were about 4 percent less likely to die prematurely and about 5 percent less likely to return to hospital within 30 days. Researchers say that the patients studied suffered from a wide range of medical conditions and women doctors were assigned serious cases as often as men.

While the researchers stopped short of blaming the poor performance of male doctors on medical mistakes, both male and female physicians who fail to adhere to accepted health care standards cause thousands of premature deaths and unnecessary injuries each year in the United States. The victims of medical malpractice often suffer catastrophic consequences, and personal injury attorneys with experience in this area could seek compensation for them by filing lawsuits against the negligent practitioners or facilities.