"If male physicians had the same outcomes as female physicians, we'd have 32,000 fewer deaths"
We, as a society, tend to think of doctors as men. That's not to say that we don't believe women should be in the medical profession, it's just that we mentally cast them in the role of "nurse" much more often than we do "doctor." In a perfect world, we'd all like to think that the gender of your doctor doesn't matter, but according to some recent studies it does. Just not in the way we might expect. Studies published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) show that having a female doctor puts you in a better position as a patient. It turns out, male doctors are more likely to have their patients die.
In the past, studies have found that male physicians and female physicians have different "practice patterns." Meaning things like their bedside manner, the way they go about investigating possibilities, and their problem solving techniques tend to differ. A group of physicians and researchers got together to see how those differences in treatment styles play out for the patients. They studied groups of patients in hospitals around the nation, checking to see which patients died or were readmitted to the hospital. The results were pretty clear:
Hospitalized patients treated by female internists have lower mortality and readmissions compared with those cared for by male internists. These findings suggest that the differences in practice patterns between male and female physicians, as suggested in previous studies, may have important clinical implications for patient outcomes. - JAMA
Also, it doesn't seem to matter how sick the patient was when they came into the hospital. Patients are ranked into "quintiles"; the lower the number on a scale of 1-5, the healthier the patient is. Male doctors had higher mortality and readmission regardless of where the patients fell on the scale. Obviously, the sicker the patient is, the more likely they are to pass away or need to be readmitted, but it's interesting that male physicians seemed to have their patients do worse no matter how sick or healthy they were when they came in.
Mortality Rates Over 30 Days For Male and Female Physicians
Readmission Rates Over 30 Days For Male and Female Physicians
Researchers discussed the study in a blog posted on Harvard's website.
Another important point must be addressed. There is pretty strong evidence of a substantial gender pay gap and a gender promotion gap within medicine. Several recent studies have found that women physicians are paid less than male physicians – about 10% less after accounting for all potential confounders – and are less likely to promoted within academic medical centers. Throw in our study about better outcomes, and those differences in salary and promotion become particularly unconscionable.
The bottom line is this: When it comes to medical conditions, women physicians seem to be outperforming male physicians.
Once again women prove just how hard they rock. Long story short, it's time to seriously re-evaluate the way we think about physicians and women in the medical and medical research fields.