Need an Operation? Might Be Better to Choose a Woman Surgeon

In some surgical fields, men make up 80 percent or more all practitioners. But a new study finds that patients who had women surgeons were more likely to have positive outcomes. In an analysis of more than one million surgical patients who were monitored for a year after their surgery, the study found that “those treated by a female surgeon were less likely to experience death, hospital readmission, or major medical complication.”

Among the 1,165,711 patients studied, 151,054 were treated by a female and 1,014,657 by a male surgeon. Overall, 14.3 percent of the patients had one or more adverse postoperative outcomes within 90 days and 25.0 percent had one or more adverse postoperative outcomes within one year following surgery. Among those who had adverse postoperative outcomes, 2.0 percent of patients died within 90 days and 4.3 percent died within 1 year. In all measures, patients with a woman surgeon were more likely to avoid negative outcomes. Overall, 2.4 percent of all patients who had been operated on by a man died within one year after surgery, compared to 1.6 percent of patients who had a woman surgeon.

The authors conclude that “after accounting for patient, procedure, surgeon, anesthesiologist, and hospital characteristics, the findings of this cohort study suggest that patients treated by female surgeons have lower rates of adverse postoperative outcomes including death at 90 days and 1 year after surgery compared with those treated by male surgeons.”

The full study, “Surgeon Sex and Long-Term Postoperative Outcomes Among Patients Undergoing Common Surgeries,” was published on the website of the journal JAMA Surgery. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study

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