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Study: Female patients more likely to have adverse outcomes from male surgeons

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2022 | Surgical Errors

A study published last December in JAMA Surgery concludes women operated on by male surgeons suffer significantly higher adverse outcomes than those who had female surgeons.

Utilizing data from 1.3 million surgeries in Ontario, Canada, between 2007 and 2019, the research studied operations performed by nearly 2,400 surgeons.

What were the key takeaways?

During those 12 years, researchers in the U.S. and Canada found that female patients suffered more adverse results from male surgeons than their female counterparts. Some of the most alarming statistics include:

  • Female patients were 15% more likely to experience negative results if male surgeons treated them compared to female surgeons
  • Women patients were 32% more likely to die when treated by male surgeons
  • 16% saw a significant rise in major surgical complications
  • 11% had to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days after surgery

For the most part, male patients had similar outcomes in most categories regardless of the gender of their surgeon. However, men had a 13% increased risk of death when operated on by male surgeons.

No easy answers were found

The study’s authors could not pinpoint why better outcomes are more likely for patients treated by female surgeons, particularly female patients. But researchers say women surgeons are obviously “doing something right,” and they continue to study the data looking for answers.

They admit male surgeons may feel threatened by these findings. But they hope that all surgeons accept their research in the spirit it was intended – namely, the opportunity to improve their skills and knowledge and provide better outcomes to all patients.


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