Patient death rate for older surgeons slightly lower than their younger counterparts

Patients receiving emergency treatment from surgeons 60 years and older experienced slightly lower mortality rates than those treated by surgeons 40 years and younger according to a study published in The BMJ.

Researchers conducted an observational study at U.S. acute care hospitals. They studied 892,187 Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries aged 65 years and older who underwent one of 20 major nonelective surgeries between 2011 and 2014. The primary outcome was operative mortality rate, defined as death during hospital admission or within 30 days of the procedure.

The patients included in the study were treated by 45,826 surgeons. Researchers found adjusted operative mortality rate was:

• 6.3 percent for patients treated by surgeons 60 years or older
• 6.5 percent for patients treated by surgeons 40 to 49 years
• 6.6 percent for patients treated by surgeons younger than 40 years

Researchers found no evidence adjusted operative mortality differed between patients treated by female and male surgeons.

"Our finding that younger surgeons have higher mortality suggests more oversight and supervision early in a surgeon's career may be useful and at least warrants further investigation," study authors concluded.

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