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Health Care Costs Lower for Patients Treated by Female Surgeons

Findings seen for 25 common surgical procedures, with lower costs persisting through 90 days

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Nov. 30, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Health care costs are lower for patients treated by female surgeons versus those treated by male surgeons, according to a study published online Nov. 29 in JAMA Surgery.

Christopher J. D. Wallis, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Toronto, and colleagues examined associations between surgeon sex and costs of surgical care using data from 1.2 million adult patients undergoing one of 25 common elective or emergent surgical procedures from 2007 through 2019.

The researchers found that at the procedure-specific level and when adjusting for patient-, surgeon-, anesthesiologist-, and hospital-level covariates, one-year total health care costs were higher for patients treated by male surgeons ($24,882) versus female surgeons ($18,517; adjusted relative risk, 1.10). At 30 and 90 days, similar patterns persisted (adjusted absolute differences, $3,115 and $4,228, respectively).

“These data further underscore the importance of creating inclusive policies and environments supportive of women surgeons to improve recruitment and retention of a more diverse and representative workforce,” the authors write. “Furthermore, they justify work to better understand the personality traits and practice behaviors that underpin these sex-based differences in outcomes. Together, these actions are vital for offering the highest value care for all patients undergoing surgery.”

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