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Medicine practiced by men versus medicine practiced by women

Medicine practiced by men versus medicine practiced by women

Preferring to be treated by a male doctor rather than a female doctor is a classic example of patients' sexist attitude toward women who practice medicine, believing that doctors are better than women. A recent study addressed the question from an outcomes perspective: Do people treated by female doctors tend to have a higher mortality rate and a greater likelihood of being readmitted to the hospital than those treated by male doctors?

The study was conducted by an international team led by Dr. Atsushi Miyawaki, a professor at the University of Tokyo in Japan. Anupam Jena from Harvard University, Yusuke Tsugawa from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and Lisa Rotenstein from the University of California, San Francisco, US. These three institutions also worked on the study.

The research team analyzed data from the American health care service from 2016 to 2019 for about 458,100 female patients and about 319,800 male patients. Among them, 142,500 and 97,500, or about 31% of them, were treated by female doctors. Mortality was taken into account for 30 days after hospital admission. Readmission was taken into account up to 30 days after hospital discharge.

The study results indicate not only that the idea that men are better doctors than women is false, but they also reveal that in the specific case of this group of patients analysed, they had a lower rate of mortality and readmission to hospital when they were treated by female doctors. Furthermore, female patients benefited more than male patients from seeing a female physician.

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The researchers found that the mortality rate for female patients was 8.15% when they were treated by female doctors, compared to 8.38% when the doctor was male, a small but clinically important difference. Although the difference in the case of male patients was smaller, female doctors still had the advantage, with a mortality rate of 10.15% in their patients compared to 10.23% for patients treated by male doctors.

The researchers observed the same pattern in hospital readmission rates.

Patients treated by female doctors tend to have a lower mortality rate and a lower likelihood of being hospitalized, according to the results of the new study and based on the case group analyzed. (Illustration: Amazings/NCYT)

There is no doubt that the results of the study will raise controversy. However, Miyawaki and colleagues caution that it is too early to draw conclusions from the results of this study, and that it is recommended to investigate this issue further and take other factors into account.

The study is titled “Comparison of Hospital Mortality and Readmission Rates by Physician and Patient Gender.” It was published in the academic journal Annals of Internal Medicine. (fountain: NCYT by Amazings)