Being Treated by a Female Physician Leads to 'Lower Mortality' Rates, Study Shows

“Female and male physicians practice medicine differently," one of the study's authors said

<p>Getty</p> Female physician (stock photo)


Female physician (stock photo)

A new study says hospital patients — particularly women — are less likely to die or be readmitted when "receiving treatments from female physicians."

Published on Monday, April 22, in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the study conducted by researchers at the University of California Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine set out to determine if "the association between physician sex and hospital outcomes varied between female and male patients hospitalized with medical conditions."

After studying over 776,000 patients who were "hospitalized with medical conditions during 2016 to 2019 and treated by hospitalists," the study concluded that "patients have lower mortality and readmission rates when treated by female physicians."

Not only that, but the study also found that "the benefit of receiving treatments from female physicians is larger for female patients than for male patients." For female patients, the results showed that "the difference between female and male physicians was large and clinically meaningful."

<p>Getty</p> Female medical professional (stock photo)


Female medical professional (stock photo)

Related: New Studies Suggest Female Doctors Make Better Surgeons Than Male Doctors

“What our findings indicate is that female and male physicians practice medicine differently, and these differences have a meaningful impact on patients’ health outcomes,” Yusuke Tsugawa, one of the study's authors, said, per The Independent.

He added, "Further research on the underlying mechanisms linking physician gender with patient outcomes, and why the benefit of receiving the treatment from female physicians is larger for female patients, has the potential to improve patient outcomes across the board."

In fact, two studies published in 2023 suggested that patients operated on by female surgeons are less likely to require follow-up care related to adverse outcomes, including death within the 12-month period post operation.

According to the studies, during a 90-day post-surgery time period, 13.9% of patients operated on by a male surgeon experienced “adverse postoperative outcomes,” including death, readmission to a medical facility or post-operative complications. However, within the same period, only 12.5% of patients treated by a female surgeon experienced adverse reactions post surgery.

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<p>Getty</p> Female doctor with patient (stock photo)


Female doctor with patient (stock photo)

While the new research didn't offer a reason why female patients benefit from treatment by female doctors, NBC News reported that other studies show there's likely to be "miscommunication, misunderstanding and bias" in those situations.

According to a study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine in January 2024, "women and minority patients are up to 30% more likely to be misdiagnosed than white men," NBC News reported.

"Our pain and our symptoms are often dismissed," said Dr. Megan Ranney, dean of the Yale School of Public Health, told the outlet, adding that “it may be that women physicians are more aware of that and are more empathetic."

Seemingly echoing that sentiment, Tsugawa told The Independent that "it is important to note that female physicians provide high-quality care, and therefore, having more female physicians benefits patients from a societal point-of-view."

He added, "A better understanding of this topic could lead to the development of interventions that effectively improve patient care."

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