Home >  News >  October, 2017

Study Finds Patients Fare Better When the Surgeon is Female

Nature or nurture? Women typically have to work harder to become surgeons, the authors point out.

Published: October 12, 2017

FAIR TO COMPARE The study matched female and male surgeons based on numerous criteria.

Do women make better surgeons? Maybe. Or maybe "better" women become surgeons — better, that is, in that they have the skill, drive and determination to overcome sex-based barriers to entry in what has traditionally been a male-dominated field.

Maybe both. What's known for sure is that a large recent retrospective study found that patients treated by female surgeons were slightly less likely to be readmitted, to suffer complications or to die, within 30 days.

The study, published in the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal), looked at more than a million surgeries performed in Ontario, Canada between 2007 and 2015, and drilled down based on surgeon age, years in practice, operative volumes, surgical specialty, and patient demographics.

Based on matching sets of more than 52,000 patients for each surgeon sex, the cohort of patients treated by women had fewer 30-day mortalities (480 vs. 543), fewer 30-day readmissions (2,433 vs. 2,518) and fewer 30-day complications (3,543 vs. 3,674). The differences related primarily to elective operations. No significant differences were found in outcomes after emergency surgeries.

Previous studies, say the authors, have shown that sex-based discrimination, lifestyle factors and workload are deterrents for women considering careers in surgery. As a result, they suggest, the women who become surgeons may be "proportionately more skilled, motivated, and harder working" than their male counterparts.

The findings, they add, "have important implications for supporting sex equality and diversity in a traditionally male dominated profession."

Jim Burger


Also in the News...

R.I. Smoke Evacuation Legislation Becomes Law
Former Chief Nursing Officer Alleges Firing Retaliation for Reporting Safety Concerns
IV Drip Containing Formaldehyde Instead of Saline Kills Russian Woman, 28
Central Sterile Tech Shoots and Kills Nursing Supervisor at Alabama Hospital
Study Finds Psychosis Drug Amisulpride Reduces Nausea and Vomiting
Design Flaw Could Keep Bair Hugger Warming Blankets From Fully Inflating
Pentax Voluntarily Recalls ED-3490TK Video Duodenoscopes for Design and Labeling Changes

New to Outpatient Surgery Magazine?
Sign-up to continue reading this article.
Register Now
Have an account? Please log in:
Email Address:
  Remember my login on this computer

advertiser banner

Other Articles That May Interest You

A New Kind of Gender Bias for Female Surgeons

Study says the backlash women receive following surgical errors far exceeds what male surgeons experience.

Let's Team Up to Prevent Patient Harm

Our exploration of surgical safety kicks off with a look at the persistent problem of medical care gone wrong.

Why Surgeon-Specific Outcomes Matter