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Patients Treated by Female Surgeons ‘Less Likely to Die’

Female surgeons bring more precision and patient-centered care to the operating room
Female surgeons bring more precision and patient-centered care to the operating room. Credit: Fort Belvoir Community Hospital / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

A recent study published in the JAMA Surgery journal suggests that patients treated by female surgeons tend to have a higher chance of recovering well and are “less likely to pass away.” This research involving over a million individuals raises important questions about the causes of these outcomes.

The study looked at patients who had undergone surgery and found that those treated by female surgeons were less likely to face problems or complications within ninety days to a year after their procedures. This discovery highlights the potential benefits of having female surgeons on the medical team.

Details of the study

In this study, there were a whopping 1,165,711 patients, which researchers divided into two groups. Of those, 151,054 were taken care of by female surgeons, while 1,014,657 received treatment from male surgeons.

The research strongly suggests that there are notable variations in patient outcomes depending on the gender of the doctors involved. The experts, including researchers from the University of Toronto in Canada, have emphasized this important aspect of the study.

Another study, which was also recently published in the same journal, examined how patients fared after having their gallstones removed. This procedure is quite common in surgery. Surprisingly, the study revealed that female surgeons generally did better than their male colleagues in this particular area.

The research indicated that when it came to gallstone removal, female surgeons achieved “more positive results” compared to their male counterparts. Interestingly, they also tended to perform the surgery at a slower pace.

The approach of taking risks

In an editorial that goes along with the study in the journal, Dr. Martin Almquist, a surgeon from Sweden’s Skane University Hospital, pointed out that these variations could be linked to the distinct ways in which men and women approach taking risks.

Dr. Almquist also suggested that the differences observed might be connected to a surgeon’s skill in working effectively with their colleagues and making decisions that prioritize the patient’s well-being, often referred to as being “patient-centered.”

“Evidence has suggested that female surgeons are more likely to use patient-centered decision-making, more willing to collaborate, and more carefully select patients for surgery,” Dr. Almquist wrote. “These differences might translate into different outcomes for female and male surgeons.”

He further said, “Being accurate and careful most likely beats risk-taking and speed when it comes to consistently achieving good outcomes for the patient.”

Both studies in JAMA note that female surgeons tend to take more time to finish surgeries, adopting a careful and systematic approach, which sets them apart from male surgeons.

Strategies to prevent unwanted results

Scientists are optimistic that by delving deeper into these distinctions between male and female surgeons, they can uncover strategies to prevent unwanted results.

Furthermore, these discoveries represent a crucial stride in examining the potential benefits of bringing more diversity into surgical practice within the field of healthcare delivery.

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