Emergency treatment by older surgeons linked to slightly lower death rates


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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Patients undergoing emergency surgery who are treated by surgeons aged 60 or over have slightly lower mortality rates in the first few weeks after their operation than patients treated by surgeons aged less than 40 within the same hospital, finds a new study published by The BMJ.

Researchers analysed data on 892,187 patients aged 65-99 years who were treated by 45,826 surgeons and underwent one of 20 major emergency surgical procedures at US acute care hospitals between 2011 and 2014.

They found operative mortality was slightly lower for older surgeons than for younger surgeons, but did not differ meaningfully between male and female surgeons. After stratification by sex of surgeon, patients’ mortality declined with age of surgeon for both male and female surgeons with the exception for female surgeons aged 60 or older, while female surgeons in their 50s had the lowest operative mortality.

"Our finding that younger surgeons have higher mortality suggests that more oversight and supervision early in a surgeon’s career may be useful and at least warrants further investigation. Equivalent outcomes between male and female surgeons suggest that patients undergoing surgery receive high-quality care irrespective of surgeon sex,” the authors say. 

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