Study says you're more likely to live if you have a female doctor

Study says you're more likely to live if you have a female doctor
Source: Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock

Sometimes saying women are better than men is simply a misandrist's dig. Other times, though, it's based on pure science.

A new study from researchers at Harvard University found female doctors easily outshine their male counterparts in at least one critically important way: Fewer of their patients die. After examining Medicare data tracking 1,583,028 hospitalizations, scientists determined patients of female physicians enjoyed "significantly lower mortality rates" and readmission rates, along with fewer emergency-room visits. 

The Atlantic crunched the numbers and reported the discrepancy in care means 32,000 fewer Medicare patients alone would die every year if they had women doctors — or, as the outlet wrote, "male physicians were as adept as females."

According to the study, men and women's vastly different approaches to practicing medicine likely account for the disparity. It's long been known women are more likely to follow clinical guidelines and observe "evidence-based" practices, while men — well, they're a little more on the Gregory House end of the spectrum. 

Remember him?

Dr. Gregory House, typically referred to simply as House, is the title character of the American medical drama series 'House.'
Source: 
Giphy

Physicians Rita Redberg and Anna Parks used the findings as the basis for their editorial, arguing it's time female doctors received the same pay as their male colleagues.

According to their article, female academic physicians make about $19,879 — or 8% — less than male physicians on average. Meanwhile, women can see as much as a 67.5% difference in how much they're offered in start-up funding packages, which Redberg and Parks point out are crucial for launching a doctor's faculty career.

"In a system that is increasingly focused on pay for performance, behaviors that lead to improved outcomes are rewarded, which might narrow the pay gap between the genders," doctors Redberg and Parks wrote Monday. Redberg and Parks maintained the study's results should "push us to create systems that promote equity in start-up packages, career advancement and remuneration for all physicians."

After all, it's a win-win for everyone: Women physicians would get equal pay and fewer patients would die. 

The report concludes: "Understanding exactly why these differences in care quality and practice patterns exist may provide valuable insights into improving quality of care for all patients, irrespective of who provides their care."

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Marie Solis

Marie is a Slay staff writer with focuses in culture and class. Her writing has appeared in Gothamist and the Awl. You can reach her at marie@mic.com.

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