Study Finds Better Outcomes for Patients Who Are Cared for by Women Surgeons

A new study by Raj Satkunasivam, assistant professor of urology at the Houston Methodist Institute for Technology, Innovation, and Education, finds that patients treated by a woman surgeon have a small but statistically significant decrease in 30-day mortality rates as well as better results on measures such as length of hospital stay, complications, and readmission to the hospital after being released compared to patients who were treated by male surgeons.

The study examined 104 630 patients who treated by 3,314 surgeons in Ontario, Canada, between 2007 and 2015. Of these surgeons 774 were women and 2,540 were men. The patients were matched by factors such as age, gender, comorbidity, surgeon volume, surgeon age, and hospital to patients undergoing the same operation by both male and female surgeons. After this matching, the results showed that fewer patients treated by female surgeons died, were readmitted to hospital, or had complications within 30 days.

Dr. Satkunasivam writes that “female and male physicians differ in their practice of medicine in ways that might substantially affect patient outcomes. These findings support the need for further examination of the surgical outcomes and mechanisms related to physicians and the underlying processes and patterns of care to improve mortality, complications, and readmissions for all patients.”

The author adds that the results “have important implications for supporting sex equality and diversity in a traditionally male dominated profession.”

The study, “Comparison of Postoperative Outcomes Among Patients Treated by Male and Female surgeons: A Population Based Matched Cohort Study,” was published on the website of The BMJ. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study

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