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Patient-mortality rates: Foreign-educated physicians in U.S. hospitals do better


A study in the journal BMJ says that Medicare patients in  U.S. hospitals had lower mortality rates when cared for by foreign-educated physicians than by graduates of U.S. medical schools.

Harvard University researchers examined data for Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries admitted to hospitals with  medical conditions between 2011 and 2014 and treated by general internists who were foreign or U.S. medical graduates.

Becker’s Hospital Review reported: “After adjusting for patient and physician characteristics and hospital fixed effects, they found patients treated by foreign-educated physicians had lower mortality (11.2 percent) compared to patients treated by U.S. medical school graduates (11.6 percent).

“‘We found no evidence that patient outcomes for graduates who had trained outside of the U.S. were worse than for graduates from a U.S. medical school. If any, patients treated by the international graduates had lower 30-day mortality than those treated by the U.S. graduates. These differences persisted across a broad range of clinical conditions, and even among hospitalists, where patient selection might be less of a concern.”

“Researchers said patients treated by foreign-educated physicians also had slightly higher costs of care per admission ($1,145) compared to patients treated by U.S. medical school graduates ($1,098). According to the study, readmission rates remained similar between foreign-educated physicians and U.S. medical school graduates.”

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