Hospitalized Seniors Do Slightly Better Treated by Female Doctors

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Hospitalized Seniors Do Slightly Better Treated by Female Doctors
Hospitalized Seniors Do Slightly Better Treated by Female Doctors

MONDAY, Dec. 19, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Older hospital patients treated by female internists have a slightly lower mortality rate than those treated by male internists, according to a study published online Dec. 19 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The findings are based on records from Medicare patients who were hospitalized between 2011 and 2014, for illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, and acute renal failure. During that period, 58,344 general internists treated at least one of those patients. One-third of the doctors were women.

In general, female internists were younger than their male counterparts, and were more likely to work at large hospitals or academic medical centers. They also saw fewer patients, on average. Along with the seniors' reduced mortality rate, their odds of a hospital readmission were somewhat lower. The researchers found that 15.02 percent were hospitalized again within 30 days, versus 15.57 percent of patients treated by a male internist.

The differences were "modest," senior researcher Ashish Jha, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of health policy at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, told HealthDay. Overall, less than 11.1 percent of patients treated by female internists died within 30 days. That compared with just under 11.5 percent among patients treated by male internists. Still, Jha said, that difference translates into about 32,000 fewer deaths in the United States annually.

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