Older patients in North Carolina hospitals may want a female doctor providing their care according to a study published on Dec. 19 in JAMA Internal Medicine. The study found that patients aged 65 and over who had female doctors were less likely to return within a month of a hospitalization. The researchers looked at 1.5 million Medicare patients hospitalized for non-surgical care between 2011 and 2014.
Researchers controlled for factors such as the patient's age, gender and income as well as the doctor's age, training and the location of the hospital. After accounting for these controls, it was discovered that a patient who saw a female doctor were slightly less likely to die prematurely. They were also less likely to be readmitted to the hospital in the next 30 days.
Researchers cautioned that the results did not imply that female doctors were necessarily better than male doctors. However, it did imply that they did their jobs in a way that others could learn from. Past studies have indicated that female doctors are more likely to follow guidelines based on scientific evidence and spend more time with patients. They also had a tendency to reassure patients and ask more questions about their emotional and social well-being.
Regardless of the gender of the practitioner, people who are hospitalized expect that their doctors will treat them to the best of their ability. However, errors sometimes occur, such as a failure to diagnose a disease which then spreads and leads to a worsened condition. When this does happen, an affected patient may want to speak with a medical malpractice attorney in order to see what recourse may be available.