Study Finds Women Patients Were More Likely to Die After Surgery If Their Surgeon Was a Man

A new study led by researchers at Vanderbilt University and the University of Toronto found that women who underwent surgery by a male physician were 15 percent more likely to die than women who were operated on by a female surgeon.

Researchers analyzed data on 1,320,108 patients who had surgeries between 2007 and 2019. In more than half of these cases, the sex of the surgeon was different than the sex of the patient. The vast majority of these cases were male surgeons operating on women patients.

The results showed that women who had male surgeons were more likely to die, experience readmission, or complication within 30-days following surgery than women who had a woman surgeon. There was no similar gender disparity for men who were operated on by a woman surgeon.

Amalia Cochran, a surgeon at the University of Florida College of Medicine and an editor at JAMA Surgery, wrote in a commentary accompanying the study that “what is surprising and troubling is that negative outcomes, including complications and death, were linked to sex discordance. Unfortunately, this association disproportionately affected female patients. The association between surgeon-patient sex discordance and outcomes sounds the alarm for urgent action.”

Professor Cochran joined the faculty at the University of Florida in 2021 after teaching at Ohio State University and the University of Utah. She is a past president of the Association for Surgical Education. Dr, Cochran holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a medical doctorate from Texas A&M University.

The full study, “Association of Surgeon-Patient Sex Concordance With Postoperative Outcomes,” was published on the website of JAMA Surgery. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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