"If we had a treatment that lowered mortality by 0.4 percentage points or half a percentage point, that is a treatment we would use widely," Harvard's Dr. Ashish Jha, who led the study, told the Washington Post. "We would think of that as a clinically important treatment we want to use for our patients."
Ruling out several different causes for the discrepancy, the study authors pointed to practice patterns that broke down along gendered lines. Previous studies have shown that female doctors tend to be better at counseling their patients on preventive care, following clinical guidelines, and communicating effectively.
While it's important to point out that the study has limitations -- it's impossible to control for all variables in real-world scenarios -- it nonetheless states: "Assuming that the association between sex and mortality is causal, we estimate that approximately 32,000 fewer patients would die if male physicians could achieve the same outcomes as female physicians every year."