Foreign-trained docs as good as U.S. physicians - report

WASHINGTON Tue Aug 3, 2010 10:22am IST

Related Topics

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, daughter of Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, adjusts her flower garlands as she campaigns for her mother during an election meeting at Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh April 22, 2014. REUTERS/Pawan Kumar

Election 2014

More than 814 million people — a number larger than the population of Europe — are eligible to vote in the world’s biggest democratic exercise.  Full Coverage 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nurse anaesthetists can safely provide care without doctors supervising them, according to a report released on Tuesday.

And a second report found that physicians trained in other countries provide care just as good as U.S. doctors.

Both reports, published in the journal Health Affairs, suggest ways to help provide care to more Americans at potentially lower cost, just as healthcare reform promises to extend health coverage to millions who do not have it.

"Nurse anaesthetists get essentially the same training in anaesthesia as anaesthesiologists. So in this case, a nurse is just about a perfect substitute for the doctor," Jerry Cromwell, a health economist at the Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina who led one study, said in a statement.

"Eliminating physician supervision will not only allow nurses to do what they are trained and highly qualified to do, but it will encourage hospitals and surgeons to use a more cost-effective mix of anaesthetists."

Nurse anaesthetists typically earn less than anaesthesiologists, who are medical doctors.

Cromwell and colleague Brian Dulisse analyzed 481,440 hospitalizations covered by Medicare, the federal health insurance plan for the elderly. While more nurse anaesthetists cared for patients during surgery between 1999 and 2005, there was no increase in bad outcomes.

The second study looked at the care provided by foreign-trained doctors.

"Despite a rigorous U.S. certification process for international graduates, the quality of care provided by doctors educated abroad has been an ongoing concern," said John Norcini, president of the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research, who led the study.

Norcini's team analyzed 244,153 hospitalizations of patients with congestive heart failure or acute heart attack in Pennsylvania who were treated by either a U.S.-trained or foreign-trained doctor.

Patients of foreign-born international medical graduates had the lowest death rates. Patients of U.S. citizens who attended medical school in other countries had the highest death rates. U.S.-born and trained doctors fell in the middle.

"These findings bring attention to foreign-trained doctors and the valuable role they have played in responding to the nation's physician shortage," Norcini said.

"It is reassuring to know that patients of these doctors receive the same quality of care that they would receive from a physician trained in the United States."

He said 25 percent of all doctors practicing in the United States are educated abroad.

The study also found that experience did not always mean the best care. The longer it had been since a doctor left medical school, the worse the rate of death and complications requiring patients to stay in the hospital longer.

"Ongoing training programs and periodic reassessment of doctors' knowledge and skills can help maintain the level of physician competence needed to deliver high quality health care," Norcini said.

About 46 million Americans, or 15 percent of the population, now have no health insurance. A new healthcare law signed in March is projected to extend coverage to 32 million more Americans, mainly by requiring them to buy it.

Many groups worry the already stretched medical system will be unable to accommodate so many more people seeking regular health care services.

(Reporting by Maggie Fox)

(For more news on Reuters India, click in.reuters.com)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Ukraine

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Obama's Japan Visit

Obama's Japan Visit

Obama to use Japan visit to reassure Asian allies.  Full Article 

Solar Dispute

Solar Dispute

Green groups urge U.S. to drop solar trade case against India.  Full Article 

Ferry Tragedy

Ferry Tragedy

Children's corpses in Korean ferry reveal desperate attempts to escape.  Full Article 

Reconciliation Deal

Reconciliation Deal

Hamas, Abbas's PLO announce reconciliation agreement.  Full Article 

Syria Crisis

Syria Crisis

U.N. chief demands Security Council action on Syria.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage