A recent study suggests that US patients are less likely to die when treated by doctors trained in foreign countries, reports Reuters. 

“Although we are uncertain exactly why foreign-trained doctors have slightly better outcomes, the US currently sets a very high bar for foreign medical graduates to practice medicine in the US,” said lead study author Dr Yusuke Tsugawa, a policy and management researcher at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

“Therefore, the doctors who choose to leave their home country and manage to pass all certification exams may be very capable and motivated individuals,” Tsugawa said by email.

The absolute difference was small, with mortality rates of 11.2 percent for foreign-trained doctors versus 11.6 percent for US medical school graduates.

After accounting for other factors that could contribute to patients’ outcomes, the mortality rate was 5 percent lower for foreign medical graduations. But that’s large enough to impact tens of thousands of patients nationwide.

International medical graduates make up a quarter of the physician workforce in the US, the UK, Canada and Australia, researchers note in the BMJ. In the US, doctors trained elsewhere treat a far greater proportion of patients in many rural and underserved communities, previous studies have shown.

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