Female Surgeons Bring Better Outcomes for Patients, Two Studies Show
The field of surgery has long been dominated by men, and still is today. But two new studies show that if patients want safe, effective long-term results, picking a female surgeon might be key.
In one study involving more than 1 million Canadian surgical patients whose outcomes were followed for a year, "those treated by a female surgeon were less likely to experience death, hospital readmission or major medical complication," wrote a team led by Dr. Christopher Wallis, of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.
Another study — this time focused on gallstone removal, one of the most commonly performed surgeries — also found female surgeons outperforming males, on average, when it came to outcomes.
Both studies were published online Aug. 30 in JAMA Surgery.
Why the gender gap? According to Dr. Martin Almquist, who wrote an accompanying editorial in the journal, it might come down to differences in attitudes towards risk-taking, the surgeon's ability to collaborate with others, and being "patient-centered" when it comes to making decisions around surgery.
In both studies, female surgeons tended to be more methodical and take longer to complete a surgery compared to their male colleagues, the researchers noted.
"Being accurate and careful most likely beats risk-taking and speed when it comes to consistently achieving good outcomes for the patient," concluded Almquist, a surgeon at the Skane University Hospital in Lund, Sweden.
Almquist conceded that it's not yet proven how women outperform men in the OR.
"Perhaps personality traits more common among women contribute to better outcomes?" he said.
Regardless of the reasons, "Surely, the ideal of the surgeon as the [male] 'lonesome cowboy' belongs to an era long gone," Almquist added.
The surgical profession remains a largely male domain, however.
For example, in the Canadian study — which looked at 25 different types of surgeries conducted between 2007 and 2019 — only about 151,000 of a total of nearly 1.2 million procedures had been conducted by women.
In the study, Wallis and his colleagues tracked 90-day and one-year outcomes for all patients.
Read the whole article here.