Foreign-Educated Doctors Provide Better Care Than Their US Counterparts

Posted: Feb 5 2017, 12:31pm CST | by , Updated: Feb 5 2017, 12:37pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Foreign-Trained Doctors Provide Better Care than their US Counterparts
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Patients have lower mortality rates if their doctors were trained at foreign medical schools rather than at American universities, says study

US patients treated by foreign qualified doctors have lower death rates than those treated by US doctors.

Researchers from Harvard University have found that foreign trained doctors are just as good as or better than their American counterparts.

"Some patients are concerned about the quality of care from foreign-medical graduates,” said Dr. Yusuke Tsugawa, lead author of the study. “That is, I think, unfair without looking exactly at whether their performance is as good as the U.S. medical graduates.”

For the study, researchers analyzed the data of more than 1.2 million Medicare patients aged 65 and older who were admitted to hospitals between 2011 and 2014 and treated by both US medical graduates and by doctors from other countries.

Researchers found that patients treated by foreign doctors had better chances of survival compared to those treated by doctors from American universities. 

Patients of foreign trained doctor had 11.6 percent lower mortality rate compared to 11.2 percent of those treated by US trained doctors. No difference was observed in patient hospital readmission rates. But the cost of care was slightly higher for foreign-trained doctors, $1,145 versus $1,098.

“Although we are uncertain exactly why foreign-trained doctors have slightly better outcomes, the U.S. currently sets a very high bar for foreign medical graduates to practice medicine in the U.S.” said Tsugawa.

"Therefore, the doctors who choose to leave their home country and manage to pass all certification exams may be very capable and motivated individuals.”

The findings came when President Trump has banned citizens, including doctors, of seven countries from entering the United States. If medical graduates from other countries do not practice in America, it may have a significant impact on the U.S. health care system.

International medical graduates make up 25 percent of the physician workforce in the United States, while over 4,000 of them are Iranians and 3,412 are Syrian citizens.

“What we found was that they are providing high-quality care and bringing value to the U.S. healthcare system,” said Tsugawa. “If we're turning away high-quality doctors from outside the U.S. maybe we are compromising the quality of care."

The findings of the study were published in British medical journal BMJ.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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