A study led by Mount Sinai researchers and published in JAMA Surgery looked at 1.3 million adult Ontarians who had one of 21 common complex or general surgeries. Researchers showed that female patients who were operated on by a male surgeon had a greater risk of death, complications and hospital readmission compared to female patients treated by a female surgeon. This is a stark contrast with male patients who exhibited similar outcomes after surgery, regardless of the surgeon’s sex.

“As male and female surgeons receive the same training, these findings may be the result of non-technical skills learned outside of the operating room,” says Dr. Christopher Wallis, Urologic Oncologist, Mount Sinai Hospital and University Health Network and co-author of the study.

Dr. Angela Jerath, Cardiac Anesthesiologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and co-author of the study agrees and adds that, “these findings may be attributed to differences between how women and men communicate, make decisions and exercise clinical judgment – which are important assets in delivering high-quality patient care.”

The research also highlights the need for the surgical field to diversify and include more women, and for a deeper examination what’s causing these outcomes to differ.

“This research presents the opportunity for all doctors to learn and improve the care and outcomes for all patients, regardless of their sex. I see this as an opportunity to be reflective and thoughtful, to think about how I’m interacting with my patients and to highlight the value women bring to surgery,” says Dr. Wallis.

Read more about this Canadian study that has received international press coverage in The Guardian, USA Today  and CTV News Toronto.