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Female Doctors May Be Better for Patients’ Health

When a patient goes to the best hospital, he or she usually hopes for a doctor who is knowledgeable and experienced. Something else to wish for? A woman physician.

That’s because female doctors may on average be better than their male counterparts at treating patients in the hospital and keeping them healthy long-term, according to findings published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers at Harvard, examined a random sample of Medicare patients hospitalized between January 2011 and December 2014 treated by general internists. Overall, the researchers scrutinized more than 1.5 million hospitalizations, controlling for differences in hospitals and patient cases.

Their conclusion: Patients who saw a female doctor were less likely to die within 30 days of leaving the hospital. They were also less likely to get readmitted within a one-month span of their initial discharge.

“Women physicians are more likely to do evidence-based medicine, and follow clinical guidelines,” noted Ashish Jha, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and one of the study’s co-authors. “They are more likely to communicate in a way patients report is more effective.”

And those tendencies, it seems, result in healthier patients.

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