Patients cared for by female doctors have a lower risk of death, according to new research

Female doctor with patient

With more and more women being ignored in the medical field for ongoing symptoms—being told they should just eat less, and workout more, or completely ignoring pain management when inserting IUDs—it looks like all of us need to focus on finding more female doctors when setting up our care, according to countless studies.

Statistics show female doctors typically spend more time with their patients and interrupt their patients less often than male doctors do, which according to studies, leads to more accurate diagnoses and treatments, as well as ensuring things aren’t missed or ignored. Because of this, patients who have a female doctor are less likely to have major health issues after surgery or hospitalization, and their risk of death is much lower.

This correlation has been studied for quite a while, but a recent study published in the British Journal of Surgery found that “surgical teams with more women see fewer health complications among patients than male-dominated teams,” per NBC News.

Based on an analysis of more than 700,000 procedures in 88 hospitals in Canada taken between 2009 and 2019, hospitals where female surgeons and anesthesiologists made up more than 35% of the surgical teams, “Higher levels of gender diversity were associated with a 3% lower chance of serious health complications for patients within three months of a major, non-emergency surgery,” NBC News reports.

Over the last decade, other studies have proven this to be true as well. “A study published last month found that women treated by female physicians were less likely to die or be readmitted to the hospital compared to those treated by male physicians. The same was true for elderly hospitalized patients treated by female internists, according to a 2017 study,” NBC News reports.

However, don’t fret if you have a male for a doctor, according to Dr. Julie Hallet, lead author of the new study and an associate professor of surgery at the University of Toronto.

In an interview with NBC News, Hallet said, “It’s very hard to say a male is better than a female surgeon in general.”

“There are male surgeons who are excellent out there, and there are female surgeons who are excellent out there as well.” Rather, the findings underscore that hospitals provide better care when they have diverse surgical teams, Hallet said. “It’s not only the right thing to do — it’s really the smart thing to do,” she told NBC News.

She added that the strengths listed above with female doctors may not have as much of an impact if there’s only one woman on the team.

“If you have only one or two individuals, they may not feel comfortable to speak up and to bring forward their perspective,” she said. “So there has to be a critical mass achieved before you can see those benefits happen.”

However, Dr. Andrea Riner, a general surgery resident at University of Florida Health, told NBC News that patients tended to “fare worse” when their sex isn’t the same as their surgeons. She added, however, that this research still helps combat bias against female physicians.

“There are oftentimes that I am assumed to be a nurse or another member of the entire care team based on just my appearance,” Riner said.