Comparative Study
Journal Article
Observational Study
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Comparison of Hospital Mortality and Readmission Rates by Physician and Patient Sex.

BACKGROUND: Little is known as to whether the effects of physician sex on patients' clinical outcomes vary by patient sex.

OBJECTIVE: To examine whether the association between physician sex and hospital outcomes varied between female and male patients hospitalized with medical conditions.

DESIGN: Retrospective observational study.

SETTING: Medicare claims data.

PATIENTS: 20% random sample of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries hospitalized with medical conditions during 2016 to 2019 and treated by hospitalists.

MEASUREMENTS: The primary outcomes were patients' 30-day mortality and readmission rates, adjusted for patient and physician characteristics and hospital-level averages of exposures (effectively comparing physicians within the same hospital).

RESULTS: Of 458 108 female and 318 819 male patients, 142 465 (31.1%) and 97 500 (30.6%) were treated by female physicians, respectively. Both female and male patients had a lower patient mortality when treated by female physicians; however, the benefit of receiving care from female physicians was larger for female patients than for male patients (difference-in-differences, -0.16 percentage points [pp] [95% CI, -0.42 to 0.10 pp]). For female patients, the difference between female and male physicians was large and clinically meaningful (adjusted mortality rates, 8.15% vs. 8.38%; average marginal effect [AME], -0.24 pp [CI, -0.41 to -0.07 pp]). For male patients, an important difference between female and male physicians could be ruled out (10.15% vs. 10.23%; AME, -0.08 pp [CI, -0.29 to 0.14 pp]). The pattern was similar for patients' readmission rates.

LIMITATION: The findings may not be generalizable to younger populations.

CONCLUSION: The findings indicate that patients have lower mortality and readmission rates when treated by female physicians, and the benefit of receiving treatments from female physicians is larger for female patients than for male patients.

PRIMARY FUNDING SOURCE: Gregory Annenberg Weingarten, GRoW @ Annenberg.

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