A large new study looking at hospitalizations handled by general internists at US hospitals found that doctors trained in another country delivered slightly better outcomes. Researchers don’t have a good explanation for the disparity, but it could be related to the high standards for allowing foreign-trained doctors to come to the US.
Millions of Medicare Hospitalizations
This study looked at more than 1.2 million Medicare hospitalizations around the country that were handled by about 44,000 general internists, about 20,000 of whom were trained at foreign medical schools. They found that the mortality rate for those treated by US-trained doctors was 11.6%, compared to 11.2% for foreign-trained doctors. After accounting for other contributing risk factors, being treated by a foreign-trained doctor would reduce your risk of death during hospitalization by about 5%.
The conditions that contributed most to the disparity in survival, pneumonia and congestive heart failure had significantly lower mortality rates when treated by foreign-trained doctors. Other conditions weren’t significantly different.
It’s also noteworthy that the cases treated by foreign-trained doctors were less likely to be white, affluent, or covered by private insurance. Race, income, and insurance status all affect mortality risk in US hospitals. Cases seen by foreign doctors were also more likely to have multiple chronic health conditions, including congestive heart failure, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Why the Lower Risk?
Researchers wasn’t an experiment designed to really measure the quality of care delivered by these different doctors, and researchers don’t have a good explanation for the disparity in care. But several potential explanations could be put forward.
One possible explanation is that high standards for foreign-trained doctors to come to the US play a role. This would mean that foreign-trained doctors represent the elite of their countries, compared to the general pool of US doctors.
It may also be that the patients differed in ways that the study didn’t account for. The difference is small, and it wouldn’t take much of a difference to account for the disparity.
It could be, too, that foreign-trained doctors approach patients, especially Medicare patients, with a different attitude. Uninsured patients tend to get lower quality care at US hospitals, but this might not be as much of a factor for foreign-trained doctors who may approach patients more equally.
We understand that the study didn’t look at the results delivered by foreign-trained dentists, but we can definitely vouch for the quality of our Westchester County dentists, who both attended dental school in their home countries (Dr. George in Russia and Dr. Wanda in the Dominican Republic) before coming to the US. The high standards they had to meet in order to have the privilege of coming to the US speaks well of their intelligence and talent. And the extensive training they received between both courses of dental school–in their home country and at NYU–gives them a remarkable depth of knowledge to draw from. And when you add to that continuing education in dental implants, Invisalign, TMJ treatment, and other specific procedures, you can see that they truly stand out from other dentists in the area.
We invite you to learn more about the quality of care our dentists deliver. Please call (914) 526-2144 to schedule a consultation at Advanced Dentistry of Mohegan Lake.