If you want surgery done properly, get a female doctor

If you want surgery done properly, make sure it’s done by a woman – you’re less likely to suffer complications

  • Researchers in Canada found patients treated by women were at lower risk
  • Study authors suggested gap was down to patient-doctor relationship
  • READ MORE: Why there are times women should demand to see a female doctor

If you want your surgery done properly, then you should see a female doctor, research suggests.

Researchers in Canada found male and female patients treated for fractures, hip replacements and heart disease by women surgeons were nearly 10 percent less likely to suffer complications such as internal bleeding or infection within 90 days of surgery compared to patients seen by a man.

They were also six percent less likely to be hospitalized with complications related to the surgery up to a year later.

But male doctors get the job done quicker, with a separate study showing they had significantly shorter operating times for surgeries like gall bladder removal than their female counterparts.

Researchers in Canada found those treated by women were nearly 10 percent less likely to face complications within 90 days of surgery (stock)

The above graphic shows how the risk of complications after surgery was eight percent higher for patients who had a male doctor within 90 days of surgery compared to those who had a female doctor. Within a year, the risk of complications was six percent higher

The majority of American doctors are men – about 65 percent, but that share has been steadily increasing in recent decades.

In the study, involving nearly 1.2 million patients, doctors suggested the gap was down to differences in how patients responded to advice from male and female doctors.

They suggested male doctors were more likely to face disagreements from patients of both genders when giving advice on weight loss, exercise and diet compared to female doctors.

Exercising for at least 150 minutes a week, maintaining a healthy weight and eating a healthy diet are all known to boost a patient’s health.

Why there are times a woman really should demand to see a female doctor 

After all she has endured at the hands of male doctors, Jean Hatchet couldn’t be clearer. ‘If there was a man and a woman, each similarly qualified in the area of medicine I needed, I would choose the woman,’ says the 55-year-old former teacher from the UK.

The researchers also noted, however, that female doctors were more likely to have younger patients with fewer risk factors than their male counterparts.

In the study, published today in JAMA Surgery, scientists looked at patients in the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, which covers surgeries in Ontario, Canada.

They extracted data on 1.16million patients who received surgery in the province between 2007 and 2019.

Each was admitted for one of 25 common elective or emergency surgeries, such as for fractures, coronary artery surgery or a hip replacement.

They were tracked for up to a year for adverse events such as death, re-admission or complications from surgery — such as internal bleeding.

More than a million of the patients — 90 percent — were seen by male doctors, the researchers found.

Sixty percent of the patients were female and they had an average age of 59 years.

Overall, the study found that 14.3 percent of patients had one or more complications within the 90 days after surgery.

A quarter had had a complication by one year later.

Two percent of patients also died within 90 days of surgery, and four percent died within a year.

For patients who had a male surgeon, the researchers found 146,000 (14.5 percent) suffered a complication within 90 days of surgery, while 261,000 (25.8 percent) had one within a year.

But for those who had a female surgeon, a total of 19,000 (12.6 percent) had a complication within three months. After a year had passed, 29,000 (19 percent) had a medical problem related to their surgery a year later.

The analysis adjusted for factors like patient and doctor gender, age, the year the surgery took place and socioeconomic status.

They also found that patients were up to 25 percent more likely to die within a year if they had a male doctor compared to a female doctor.

But they suggested this was likely because male surgeons were more likely to be treating older patients who had more co-morbidities.

Data showed the average age of patients treated by male doctors was 60 years, and 20 percent had severe comorbidities.

For female surgeons, the average age of patients was 52 years and 17 percent had severe comorbidities. 

The scientists, led by Dr Christopher Wallis who is a urologist at the University of Toronto, wrote in the paper: ‘While technical ability is associated with short-term surgical outcomes, other factors, including patient selection, may contribute more meaningfully to longer-term patient outcomes.

‘Prior work has reported differences in communication, practice style, and the physician-patient relationship between female and male physicians.

‘We postulate these differences, along with differences in practice, may contribute more meaningfully to longer-term patient outcomes.’

Data showed that among female doctors, the majority worked in general surgery and obstetrics and gynecology.

For comparison, among male doctors, the majority were in general surgery and orthopedic surgery.

Previous studies have also shown male doctors tend to complete more work than their female counterparts.

A 2020 study published by the New England Journal of Medicine found female doctors received fewer visits than male counterparts and generated less revenue.

It added that they also spent more time in direct patient care for every visit, every day and over the course of a year. 

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