A startling and important trend in the field of surgery has been identified by two ground-breaking studies carried out in Canada and Sweden: patients operated on by female surgeons have a lower risk of experiencing postoperative problems. These results contradict assumptions regarding surgical outcomes and throw insight on gender differences in the medical field.
Disparities by Gender in Medicine
Even while women currently make up over half of those enrolled in US medical schools, they are still underrepresented in surgical fields. However, these findings suggest that male surgeons could benefit from significant insights from their female counterparts, which could result in better patient outcomes.
The Canadian Study: A Thorough Analysis
The first study, which was just published in Jama Surgery, looked at a large dataset that included almost 1.2 million Canadian patients who had 25 common procedures performed between 2007 and 2019. The study concentrated on “adverse postoperative outcomes,” which included hospital readmissions, medical problems, and death rates, both ninety days and a year following surgery.
By the time the trial reached the ninety-day mark, patients treated by female surgeons had a lower rate of unfavorable postoperative outcomes (12.5%) than patients treated by their male counterparts (13.9%). Remarkably, this pattern continued after a year, with postoperative occurrences occurring in 20.7% of patients treated by female surgeons and in 25% of patients treated by male surgeons.
The Swedish Study: Examining Gallbladder Surgery in More Detail
The second study included more than 150,000 Swedish patients who had gallbladder removal surgery; it was also published in Jama Surgery. “Significantly longer operation times” were seen among female surgeons compared to their male counterparts. They also had a lower likelihood of converting from keyhole to open surgery. Most notably, compared to patients treated by male surgeons, patients treated by female surgeons had “significantly fewer surgical complications” and shorter hospital stays.
Examining the Causes of the Trends
These studies highlight the need for more research to determine the root reasons and viable remedies for these discrepancies. According to the Canadian study, variations in communication, practice style, physician-patient interactions, and even patient selection may be connected to the better outcomes linked to female surgeons. On the other hand, the Swedish study does not address why the discrepancies were found.
From a Wider Angle: Gender Inequalities Continue
These results highlight the glaring gender differences that exist in US surgical professions. The percentage of female general surgeons in the United States in 2021 was only 22.6%, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). According to AAMC data, the numbers are even more alarming for specialized surgical specialties, where there were only 5.9% of female orthopedic surgeons and 9.6% of female neurological surgeons in the same year.