While the percentage of women in medicine is increasing, in the surgical specialties, men still far outnumber women. In a study published 10 October 2017 in the British Medical Journal, American and Canadian researchers found that only 23% of Canadian surgeons were female. But the main goal of the study was to discover if the patients from male or female surgeons had fewer post-operative problems.
So their basic question was: in the short-term, did female or male surgeons have better outcomes? The results showed that in two measures, the results from female surgeons were the same as male surgeons. But in one measure—the risk of death of a patient within 30 days of surgery—the female surgeons had slightly better results.
The researchers evaluated the results of over 104,000 surgeries performed in Ontario, Canada, between the years 2007 and 2015. Specifically, what percentage of the male surgeons’ patients died within 30 days of surgery; what percentage suffered complications of surgery; or were discharged from the hospital and then readmitted to the hospital for a problem?
Female surgeons had lower mortality risk
The results showed that there was no difference between male and female surgeons when looking at complications or need for readmission to the hospital, but that the risk of a patient dying within the first 30 days was 4% lower if the surgeon was a woman.
Previous study of female doctors (non-surgeons)
These results are amazingly similar to the results of a study comparing the outcomes of male vs. female general medical doctors treating elderly patients. This study, from Harvard, was published in February 2017 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and showed that the patients of the women doctors had a 4% lower risk of death during the study.
Why women doctors might have an advantage
The authors of both studies suggested why female doctors might show better results. They believe that female doctors were better at communicating with their patients, so that their patients would be more likely to understand and comply with their treatment recommendations. They also theorized that female doctors might be better collaborators with their colleagues, and that they were more likely to follow published guidelines on “best care” practices.
Surgery more competitive
The principal author of the Canadian study also believes that because surgery has been traditionally more male dominated (more even than other areas of medicine), that women in surgery have to overcome higher barriers to succeed and finish training. This process tends then to favor the most competent women to actually “overcome higher barriers in order to rule in the operating room”.
Who should you choose?
One conclusion from these studies is that you do not need to consider a doctor’s gender when selecting your doctor or surgeon. And you certainly don’t need to fear having a woman doctor or surgeon, since their results—at least in the short term—were slightly better than the results from a male doctor.
The principal author of the Canadian study suggests “You should select a surgeon based on the rapport you have with him or her, what your family physician recommends, and the research you do”.
The main goal of ProcuraMed is to help you choose the best doctor for your needs. We make the process of doing research easier. All doctors are not the same, and by doing a little research, you are more likely to find the doctor who will be best for you.
Read also in ProcuraMed:
Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)