According to an observational study published recently in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, patients who benefit from the attention of female physicians are less likely to experience complications or file for readmission within 30 days from discharge.
While the differences are small, the survey conducted on approximately one million patients of 65 years of age or older between 2011 and 2014 shows that subjects who were treated by female internists were recovering better than those under male physicians’ care.
Within a month after being admitted to the hospital, the death rates of the patients treated by female physicians dropped by four percent. Also, the study recorded a five percent smaller chance that patients who have been discharged would repeat hospitalization in the first month after leaving the health facility.
Dr. Yusuke Tsugawa is a health policy researcher at Harvard University located in Boston. In an e-mail, she says that the results surprised the health officials. Previous surveys showed that there is a difference in the way patients respond to female physicians, says Dr. Tsugawa. One reason as to why individuals recover better after they have been treated by a female doctor could be the level of communication female physicians exert in their patients. Dr. Tsugawa added that no meaningful impact was recorded on patients because of this until now.
The study analyzed the death and readmission rates for approximately one million individuals receiving treatment for a wide range of affections from general internists. Out of 58,344 doctors 23 percent, or 18,751, were female physicians. Over the course of the survey, the patients were hospitalized more than 1.5 million times altogether. The subjects were suffering from different conditions, such as congestive heart failure, bloodstream infections, gastrointestinal bleeding, pneumonia, kidney failure, urinary tract infections, and heart rhythm disorders.
The study concluded that death rates dropped to 11.07 percent when patients were treated by female doctors, as opposed to 11.49, when male doctors were handling cases. At the same time, the researchers also recorded the readmission rates within one month from discharge dropping to 15.02 with female doctors, compared to 15.57 percent registered for male peers.
The study also shows that female internists are capable of delivering the same, if not better results when compared to their male colleagues. For this reason, Dr. Rita Redberg and Dr. Anna Parks from the University of California in San Francisco want to use the study’s findings to provide the female physicians with a better chance at fighting for equality when it comes to career opportunities and better salaries.
Image Source: Flickr