(HealthDay News) — Active physicians providing direct patient care experienced excess deaths during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published online in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Mathew V. Kiang, ScD, MPH, from Stanford University in California, and colleagues calculated excess deaths from March 2020 through December 2021 among US physicians. Data from the American Medical Association Masterfile and corresponding Deceased Physician File were used to estimate monthly mortality from January 2016 through February 2020 among physicians aged 45 to 84 years. The model was then used to estimate expected deaths from March 2020 through December 2021.
The researchers identified 4511 deaths, representing 622 more deaths than expected among a monthly mean of 785,631 physicians (65.3% men; aged 45 to 84 years), yielding 43 excess deaths per 100,000 person-years. Among active physicians providing direct patient care, there was a strong age gradient for excess deaths (10 per 100,000 person-years in the youngest group versus 182 in the oldest group). Physicians, across all age groups, had substantially lower excess mortality than the general US population; however, despite their higher risk for contracting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection, active physicians had a lower excess mortality than nonactive physicians. Coinciding with the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines, no excess deaths among physicians were detected after April 2021.
“The findings suggest that personal protective equipment use, vaccine requirements, infection prevention protocols, adequate staffing, and other workplace-based protective measures were effective in preventing excess mortality,” the authors write.