Women Doctors May Be Better For Patients’ Health

When a patient goes to the best hospital, he or she usually hopes for a doctor who is knowledgeable and experienced. Something else to wish for? A woman physician.

That’s because female doctors may on average be better than their male counterparts at treating patients in the hospital and keeping them healthy long-term, according to findings published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers at Harvard, examined a random sample of Medicare patients hospitalized between January 2011 and December 2014 treated by general internists. Overall, the researchers scrutinized more than 1.5 million hospitalizations, controlling for differences in hospitals and patient cases.

Their conclusion: Patients who saw a female doctor were less likely to die within 30 days of leaving the hospital. They were also less likely to get readmitted within a one-month span of their initial discharge.

The differences between male and female doctors may not hold under additional examination, suggested Mark Friedberg, a senior natural scientist at the RAND Corp., a non-profit think tank. He was not involved with the study. Other factors, such as a doctor’s age or educational experience, may matter more.

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