A new study from Harvard University shows that female doctors are slightly better than their male colleagues, but get paid less. Researchers looked at more than three million medical records. Around half of these (1.5 million) were hospitalizations, and the other half were for readmissions (people who had to stay in hospital a second time). The percentage of hospital patients who had to return to hospital, or who died, was lower if the doctor was female. Mortality rates (the number of people who died) were 15.02 per cent and readmission rates were 11.07 per cent for female doctors, compared with 15.57 per cent mortality and 11.49 per cent readmission rates for patients of male doctors.
The researchers did not give a reason why women provided better care to patients than men. However, researcher Dr. Ashish Jha did give a figure for the number of lives that could be saved in the USA if male doctors performed as well as female doctors. Dr Jha said: "We estimate that approximately 32,000 fewer patients would die if male physicians could achieve the same [results] as female physicians every year." He also said that it was wrong that men got paid more than women, especially because women were better at their jobs. Dr Jha added: "We need to understand why these differences exist…and figure out how to translate it to the [wider] population of physicians."