By Julia Zorthian
December 19, 2016

Women account for just one-third of U.S. physicians, but the results of a new study suggests that’s not the only gender gap in medicine.

The study, published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, aimed to see if health outcomes vary, if at all, among patients treated by women and men. Researchers analyzed results from Medicare patients treated by 58,344 physicians between 2011 and 2014. And the results showed patients treated by women had both a lesser risk of premature death (10.82% to men’s 11.49% overall) and hospital readmissions within 30 days (15.01% to men’s 15.57%).

The researchers estimated that approximately 32,000 fewer patients would die “if male physicians could achieve the same outcomes as female physicians every year,” they wrote, based on Medicare hospitalizations. The report said that number would presumably be larger if the trend holds for non-Medicare patients.

Put simply, Ashish Jha, a study co-author and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told Vox that a patient’s “chances of dying are lower if your doctor is a woman.”

 

While researchers sought to determine whether the differences in death and readmission rates could be based on male and female doctors having different types of patients or working in different areas, nothing the researchers controlled for could explain the disparity, the Wall Street Journal reports.

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