More research has shown that surgical patients face fewer risks when their doctors are women

A new study suggests that people undergoing certain surgical procedures may be safer in hospitals where women make up at least a third of their surgical team, adding to an already growing body of research that suggests female doctors may achieve better patient outcomes than their male peers.

the Latest studypublished Wednesday in the British Journal of Surgery, looked specifically at the relationship between gender diversity in hospitals and the incidence of serious postoperative health complications, including death, in Canadian surgical patients during the first three months of their recovery.

The researchers reviewed 709,899 cases between 2009 and 2019 in which people underwent non-emergency but major inpatient procedures at 88 different hospitals. Overall, they found that illness — generally defined in medical terms as any problem arising from a procedure or treatment — occurred in 14.4% of these patients within the 90-day period immediately after surgery.

The likelihood of dying or suffering major post-operative complications in that period was much lower in hospitals where women made up more than 35% of surgeons and anesthesiologists on staff. According to the study, the odds of serious illness decreased by 3% for patients in those settings compared to hospitals that had fewer women in those roles.

Overall, the average number of female surgeons and anesthesiologists on hospital staff fell short of what researchers identified as optimal for patient success, at just 28% per hospital per year.

The odds of serious post-operative complications or death in the months following surgery were reduced, especially for patients who underwent procedures with a surgeon or anesthesiologist as their direct provider, something the researchers stressed was particularly important.

“These findings are important for improving patient outcomes and quality of care by intentionally building diverse teams,” they wrote.

This study is not alone in its findings. Last year, another study was published in the journal Gamma surgery It found that patients who underwent emergency or elective procedures between 2007 and 2019 were less likely to die, be hospitalized again, or suffer major health complications within a year of the procedure if they Being treated by a woman surgeon. That study examined more than a million cases and its results were consistent regardless of the individual characteristics of the patients, the type of surgical procedure they had, who the anesthesiologist was, or which hospital they were in during surgery.

Researchers have been trying to decipher this clear pattern for years. One group is from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health Conducted a study Between 2011 and 2014, which aims to address the question of whether treatments provided by female doctors are more effective for patients’ health.

The Harvard study looked at more than 1 million patients, all Medicaid beneficiaries, who were hospitalized for strokes, heart attacks and other fairly common conditions, all of which were treated by general internists. Patients who received care from a female doctor were 4% less likely to die within 30 days, and had a 5% lower risk of being hospitalized in the same period, compared to patients who received care from male doctors.

Dr. Ashish Jha, now dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health and formerly a professor of health policy and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told CBS News when that study was published in 2016 that its findings indicate a need for additional research to find out what female doctors are doing to improve Their patients’ results. The study’s authors, all men, were “interested in better understanding why these differences exist, but we don’t know why yet,” he said.

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