A recent study comparing doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) and doctors of medicine (MDs) found that they deliver similar quality of care and costs for hospitalized elderly patients. Patient outcomes, including mortality rates and hospital readmissions, were nearly identical between the two groups. The findings reassure patients that they can expect high-quality care regardless of their physician’s training background. While the study focused on older patients, it indicates that any differences between DOs and MDs do not affect care quality or costs, at least in the inpatient setting.
A recent study has shown that doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) and doctors of medicine (MDs) provide similar patient outcomes and costs of care. The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, focused on hospitalized elderly patients and found that mortality rates, hospital readmissions, lengths of stay, and healthcare spending were almost identical between DOs and MDs.
Analyzing over 329,000 Medicare admissions, the study revealed that patient mortality was 9.4 percent for MDs and 9.5 percent for DOs, while hospital readmission rates were 15.7 percent and 15.6 percent, respectively. The length of stay for both groups averaged 4.5 days. Notably, healthcare spending differed by just $1.
These findings offer reassurance to patients, indicating that the quality of care provided by physicians from allopathic and osteopathic medical schools is comparable. Senior author Yusuke Tsugawa, an associate professor of medicine at UCLA, emphasized that patients can expect high-quality care regardless of their physician’s training background.
DOs and MDs undergo similar rigorous education and are licensed to practice medicine in all states. However, DOs receive training with a more holistic approach, including musculoskeletal system manipulation, such as stretching and massage, to alleviate pain and improve mobility.
While MDs still constitute the majority of practicing physicians, the number of DOs is increasing rapidly, along with the growth of osteopathic medical schools and training programs. This is particularly beneficial for older rural and underserved patients, as DOs are more likely to serve these populations.
The study attributes the comparable patient outcomes and costs of care to the standardized medical education that both DOs and MDs receive. They must adhere to similar accreditation standards, including four-year curriculums that combine science and clinical rotations.
Although the study’s focus was limited to hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries and older individuals with medical conditions, the findings should be reassuring to policymakers, medical educators, and patients. However, it is important to note the study’s limitations, and further research is needed to determine if these results apply to other patient populations and outcomes.
Overall, this study highlights that the quality of care and costs associated with DOs and MDs are similar, providing confidence in the abilities of both types of physicians.