MDs vs. DOs: A new study's findings on patient outcomes

New research from researchers found hospitalized patients treated by allopathic and osteopathic physicians had similar outcomes and healthcare costs. 

The study was published May 30 in Annals of Internal Medicine and is based on an analysis of 329,510 Medicare beneficiaries 65 and older treated at a hospital between 2016 and 2019.

Mortality rates for patients treated by MDs were 9.4 percent, and DOs had a 9.5 percent death rate, the findings showed. Readmission rates were also similar for both types of physicians. The lengths of stay were 4.5 days for both and there was a $1 difference in Medicare Part B healthcare spending. 

"These findings offer reassurance to patients by demonstrating that they can expect high-quality care regardless of whether their physicians received their training from allopathic or osteopathic medical schools," said Yusuke Tsugawa, MD, PhD, senior study author and associate professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. 

About 90 percent of practicing U.S. physicians hold MD degrees and 10 percent hold DO degrees. Physicians with DOs are more likely to practice in rural and underserved areas. 

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