Study Suggests That Immigrant Doctors Provide Better Care Than U.S. Medical Graduates

During the opening monologue to a Saturday Night Live episode, comedian Louis CK once indicated that he has “mild racism” because of the following thoughts: “say I’m in a hospital and the doctor comes in to treat me and the doctor’s from China or India, I’ll think, Well, good, good, good. More of that.” Indeed, here is more of that. A study recently published in journal BMJ (British Medical Journal) seems to support CK’s “mild racism” by showing that Medicare patients treated by doctors from foreign medical schools had a 5% lower chance of dying than those treated by U.S. medical graduates. Coincidentally, this study came out in the week after President Donald Trump signed an executive order blocking entry of people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, which has ended up affecting many immigrant doctors and has caused many to protest and say “bad, bad, bad. Less of that.”

Five researchers from Harvard Medical School (Yusuke Tsugawa, Anupam B. Jena, Ruth L. Newhouse, E. John Orav, and Ashish K. Jha) conducted the study, which involved analyzing data on Medicare patients who received care from more than 44,000 internists for over 1.2 million hospitalizations in the U.S. They found that patients treated by international medical graduates had a 11.2% mortality compared to 11.6% for those treated by U.S. medical school graduates in the 30 days following hospitalization. They also found that international medical graduates tended to spend a little more than U.S. medical school graduates on their patients but this difference was not statistically significant. Note that these findings were for doctors born in other countries, not American-born doctors who went to medical schools in other countries.

Of course, such study results are very broad generalizations and lump together people who have a wide variety of backgrounds, cultures, and personalities. Different medical schools offer differing qualities of education and attract different types of students.

By Bruce Y. Lee for Forbes
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