Foreign-trained doctors in U.S. provide quality care

Doctors practicing in the U.S. who graduated from medical schools outside of the country appear to provide quality medical care that exceeds doctors who graduated from medical schools in the U.S., according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Lead author Yusuke Tsugawa, research associate in the Department of Health Policy and Management, and senior author Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Health Policy and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said the findings could have implications related to President Trump’s executive order January 27, 2017, which blocked citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days. The authors said the travel policy could negatively impact the U.S. health care system, where nearly 1 in 4 doctors currently practicing graduated from foreign medical schools.

“Foreign medical graduates are vital to providing health care in our country, and policies that discourage doctors who graduated from medical schools in other countries to practice medicine in the U.S. may have unintended consequences for the health of the American people,” said Tsugawa.

The study was published February 3, 2017 in the BMJ.

Until now, little was known about the quality of care provided by doctors who have graduated from foreign medical schools and practice medicine in the U.S. In the new study, researchers analyzed the data for approximately 1.2 million Medicare beneficiaries admitted to hospitals between 2011 and 2014. They found that patients treated by general internists who were foreign medical graduates have a lower 30-day mortality than those cared for by U.S. medical graduates, after adjusting for patient and physician characteristics and for the hospital where treatment occurred.

“America has a history of attracting the best and brightest from around the world and that appears to be true in medicine as well,” said Jha. “We hope that we are able to maintain that openness because the biggest beneficiaries of these doctors coming to the U.S. have been the American people,” he added.

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Medicare patients had slightly better survival rate with foreign-educated doctors, study finds (The Wall Street Journal)

Patients treated by foreign-educated doctors are less likely to die, study finds (STAT)