Foreign-trained docs as good as those trained in U.S.

Doctors who trained abroad deliver the same level of care as doctors educated stateside, according to a new study published in the August issue of Health Affairs. The study, which analyzed 244,000 hospitalizations of patients with congestive heart failure or acute heart attack in Pennsylvania found no notable difference in the death rates of patients treated by non-U.S.-based medical school graduates vs. those treated by U.S. medical school graduates.

Perhaps one of the most provocative findings raised questions about U.S.-born doctors who trained abroad. Patients of foreign nationals who trained abroad had the lowest death rates, while those of U.S. citizens who trained abroad had the highest.

In yet another revelation that undermines the competence of U.S. citizens who trained outside the U.S., their patients tended to linger the longest in hospitals. Patients of U.S. graduates stayed in hospitals for the shortest time.

In other findings, the study noted that specialty board certification was associated with lower mortality and shorter stays. And more experience did not translate into better quality care. In fact, physician performance declined over time. Mortality rates and duration of stay rose as the number of years since graduation from med school added up.

To learn more:
- read the Health Affairs press release 
- read the article abstract

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