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Elderly hospital patients may fare better with female doctors

Elderly patients in Arizona hospitals may not get to choose the doctor that treats them during their stays. However, those that happen to be matched up with female doctors may have better outcomes. On Dec. 19, JAMA Internal Medicine published a study looking at the differences in the outcomes of patients that were treated by male or female doctors.

The lead author of the study said that the difference in patient outcomes that was observed was minor but still clinically important. After making several statistical adjustments, researchers found that elderly patients who had been hospitalized were more likely to survive beyond one month if a female doctor had treated them in the hospital. The patients that were treated by female doctors were also less likely to be readmitted than the patients who were treated by male doctors.

While the difference in survival rates that was found by researchers was only a fraction of a percentage point, it affects thousands of patients each year. Researchers believe that if male doctors could achieve the same patient outcomes that female doctors do, 32,000 more Medicare patients would survive every year. They say that female doctors talk to patients more about how they are getting along emotionally and socially, and female doctors are more reassuring to their patients.

Readmission is often a sign of poor treatment because it can mean that a patient was sent home too early after the initial hospitalization. When doctor errors or a misdiagnosis are the cause of a patient's worsened condition, a medical malpractice lawsuit filed with the assistance of an experienced attorney could be an advisable step to take.

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