Study shows patients had ‘lower mortality’ and readmission rates with female physicians

In an analysis of over 776,000 patients hospitalized between 2016 and 2019, researchers found that "patients have lower mortality and readmission rates when treated by female physicians." 

Female physicians

Studies suggest that receiving medical treatment from a female doctor can positively impact a patient’s health and well-being.

In a study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine that bolsters such findings, researchers at the University of California Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine sought to determine whether “the association between physician sex and hospital outcomes varied between female and male patients hospitalized with medical conditions,” People magazine reported.

In an analysis of more than 776,000 patients treated by doctors while hospitalized with medical conditions between 2016 and 2019, the study concluded that “patients have lower mortality and readmission rates when treated by female physicians.” 

The results also demonstrated a “large and clinically meaningful” difference between female and male physicians regarding female patients.

“What our findings indicate is that female and male physicians practice medicine differently,” study author Yusuke Tsugawa told The Independent, “and these differences have a meaningful impact on patients’ health outcomes,” People reported.

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Tsugawa noted that additional research on the underlying mechanisms connecting physician gender with patient outcomes and “why the benefit of receiving the treatment from female physicians is larger for female patients” can potentially improve patient outcomes overall.

Patients operated on by female surgeons are less likely to need follow-up treatment for adverse outcomes, such as death within a year of the procedure, per two studies published in 2023. 

During a 90-day post-surgery period, 13.9 percent of patients operated on by a male surgeon suffered adverse postoperative outcomes — including death or readmission to a medical facility — compared with 12.5 percent of patients treated by a female surgeon.

Although the new research failed to clarify why female patients benefit from treatment by female doctors, other studies suggest “miscommunication, misunderstanding, and bias” could be underlying factors, according to NBC News.

Tsugawa emphasized to The Independent that female physicians provide high-quality care, “and therefore, having more female physicians benefits patients from a societal point-of-view.” He added that gaining a better understanding could lead to developing interventions that effectively improve patient care, People reported.