Diversity in surgery teams improves postoperative outcomes in medical care, study finds

Researchers found that sex diversity in anesthesiologists and surgery teams was shown to have better results after procedures in hospitals.
Surgery room is shown with multiple medical staff members
Posted at 1:34 PM, May 17, 2024

For those receiving care in hospitals, more sex diversity among the medical staff in surgery rooms was found to be associated with better post-surgery outcomes for patients, researchers have found. The study authors said sex diversity is not only rooted in social justice and representation, but that it is also a "catalyst for improved performance" — including in the operating room, and that it "enriches the output of teams."

In a study published in the British Journal of Surgery, researchers in a population-based study of medical records in Ontario, Canada in similar groupings of individuals found that adults who underwent major inpatient procedures between 2009 and 2019 in operating rooms with more diversity among males and females were found to have lower morbidity outcomes. Fourteen million residents receive health care services in the Canadian province where the country's capital city Ottawa is found.

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Researchers looked at the percentage of female anesthetists and surgeons at hospitals during the year the surgeries were performed. If over 35% of the anesthetists and surgeons were female, that meant there was higher sex diversity there, researchers in the study said. The researchers looked at records for hundreds of operations performed at 88 hospitals and found that 90-day major morbidity occurred in 14.4% of the patients studied.

A 2016 study in the National Library of Medicine said 90-day postoperative mortality is considered to be a "legitimate measure" of surgery quality. The time period represents morbidity rates after surgery and during monitoring, and researchers have looked at various time periods in the past, including 30-day and 100-day.

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Researchers in the retrospective cohort study published this month said greater sex diversity in hospitals is associated with lower 90-day major morbidity — 3% lower odds of 90-day major morbidity, researcher said.

The authors of the British Journal of Surgery study said there is still limited evidence on the value of sex diversity for health care teams, because of a lack of published reports on the subject.