Female patients who are operated on by a male surgeon are more likely to die, experience complications or be readmitted to hospital than when the surgeon is a woman, new research has suggested.
According to the study, women are 15% more likely to suffer adverse post-operative outcomes and 32% more likely to die when their surgery is conducted by a male surgeon rather than a female.
However, when women surgeons operated on men, the research found male patients had the same outcomes, regardless of the gender of the person performing the surgery.
The study, which was conducted by a team at the University of Toronto, involved analysing the data of 1.3 million patients between 2007 and 2019.
The study’s co-author and associate professor and epidemiologist at the University of Toronto Dr Angela Jerath told The Guardian newspaper: “This result has real-world medical consequences for female patients and manifests itself in more complications, readmissions to hospital and death for females compared with males.
“We have demonstrated in our paper that we are failing some female patients and that some are unnecessarily falling through the cracks with adverse, and sometimes fatal, consequences.”
The research paper – which was published in the medical journal JAMA Surgery – found that “sex discordance between surgeon and patient was associated with a significant increased likelihood of composite adverse post-operative outcomes”.
In accompanying commentary on the study which was also published in the medical journal, Dr Andrea Riner, from the University of Florida College of Medicine, said the findings “sound the alarm for urgent action”.
She added: “Although the underlying reasons for this disparity are not fully understood, action should be taken immediately.
“Sex disparity in surgery is not unique to Ontario. Efforts to recruit women into surgery need to be ramped up.”