Surgeon Gender Linked With 30-Day Mortality

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But surgeon sex is not associated with differences in readmissions or complications.
But surgeon sex is not associated with differences in readmissions or complications.

(HealthDay News) -- Patients treated by female surgeons have a small but significant decrease in 30-day mortality compared with patients treated by male surgeons, according to a study published online in BMJ.

Christopher JD Wallis, MD, from the University of Toronto, and colleagues performed a retrospective cohort study in patients undergoing one of 25 surgical procedures. Patients who underwent procedures performed by a female surgeon were matched by patient age, patient sex, comorbidity, surgeon volume, surgeon age, and hospital to patients undergoing the same operation by a male surgeon. The cohort included 104,630 patients treated by 3314 surgeons (774 female and 2,540 male).

The researchers found that patients treated by female surgeons were less likely to die within 30 days (adjusted odds ratio 0.88; P = 0.04) than patients treated by male surgeons. However, there were no significant differences in readmissions or complications. Stratified analyses by patient, physician, and hospital characteristics did not significantly modify the effect of surgeon sex. There were also no differences in outcomes by surgeon sex in patients who had emergency surgery.

"These findings support the need for further examination of the surgical outcomes and mechanisms related to physicians and the underlying processes and patterns of care to improve mortality, complications, and readmissions for all patients," conclude the authors.


Wallis CJD, Ravi B, Coburn N, et al. Comparison of postoperative outcomes among patients treated by male and female surgeons: a population based matched cohort study. BMJ 2017;359:j4366 359. doi: 10.1136/bmj.j4366

Marx C. Improving patient outcomes after surgery. BMJ 2017;359:j4580. doi: 10.1136/bmj.j4580
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