Emergency Room Patients Attended by a Woman Physician Have Lower Mortality Rates

A new study led by Anjali Sergeant, of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, finds that patients cared for by women physicians had lower in-hospital mortality rates than patients who’s primary doctor was a man.

The study included patients admitted to general medical wards at seven hospitals in Ontario, Canada, between April 1, 2010, and October 31, 2017. All patients were admitted to a general internal medicine service through the emergency department and were cared for by a general internist or family physician-hospitalist. Patients were excluded if length of stay was greater than 30 days or if the attending physician cared for less than 100 hospitalized general medicine patients over the study period. A total of 171 625 hospitalized patients with a median age of 73 years were included, almost equally divided by gender.

The study found that 4.8 percent of patients of women physicians died in the hospital. For patients who had a primary doctor who was a man, 5.2 percent died in the hospital. When the data was adjusted to reflect the physician’s age, the difference in mortality rates was no longer statistically significant. Thus, the authors hypothesize that physicians closer to their residency training are more up to date on clinical guidelines and more likely to follow evidence-based practice, which may improve patient outcomes. Recent studies in internal medicine reported that a longer period of time since medical school graduation and older physician age were significantly associated with increased patient mortality. Since women physicians have a lower age on average, this could explain the disparity in the overall mortality rates.

The full study, “Variations in Processes of Care and Outcomes for Hospitalized General Medicine Patients Treated by Female vs Male Physicians,” was published on the website of the Journal of the American Medical Association Health Forum. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study

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