Do Women Doctors Make Better Surgeons Than Men?
Two different studies are suggesting that patients who undergo procedures by female surgeons are less likely to need follow-up care or experience any adverse reactions, including death, within a year after the operation.
According to the American Medical Association's monthly journal JAMA Surgery, a study on more than 1 million patients in Canada over 12 years, found that within 90 days of surgery, 13.9 percent of patients operated on by male surgeons experienced "adverse postoperative outcomes," including death, whereas,12.5 percent of patients treated by female surgeons experienced adverse reactions post surgery.
After a year, the study showed that number ballooned up to 20.7 percent of patients operated on by female surgeons experiencing an adverse post-operative outcome, compared to 25 percent of those treated by male surgeons.
Dr. Christopher Wallis, a urologic oncologist at the University of Toronto and Mount Sinai, told The Guardian, "As a male surgeon, I think these data should cause me and my colleagues to pause and consider why this may be."
A second study in Sweden focused on 150,000 patients who had surgery to remove their gallbladder.
The study found that patients operated on by female surgeons experienced "fewer surgical complications," including bile duct injuries in elective surgery, while also having "significantly longer operation times" than their male counterparts.
“In some countries, there is a general belief that male surgeons are superior to female surgeons,” Dr. My Blohm of Stockholm's Karolinska Institute stated. “Interestingly, most previously published studies indicate that female surgeons are at least as good as male surgeons, or as in this case even slightly better.”
Dr. Wallis noted that "embracing or adopting some practices" commonly used by female surgeons is "likely to improve outcomes" for patients under the care of male doctors.
"Since undertaking this work," Wallis told The Guardian, "I have certainly done this personally and would encourage my colleagues to do the same: use this as a moment for introspection."