Comparison of Patient Outcomes of Surgeons Who Are US Versus International Medical Graduates

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Objective:The aim of this study was to compare patient outcomes between International Medical Graduate (IMG) versus US medical graduate (USMG) surgeons.Summary Background Data:One in 7 surgeons practicing in the US graduated from a foreign medical school. However, it remains unknown whether patient outcomes differ between IMG versus USMG surgeons.Methods:Using 20% random sample of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries aged 65 to 99 years who underwent 1 of 13 common nonelective surgical procedures (as a “natural experiment” as surgeons are less likely to select patients in this context) in 2011 to 2014 (638,973 patients treated by 37,221 surgeons for the mortality analysis), we compared operative mortality, complications, and length of stay (LOS) between IMG and USMG surgeons, adjusting for patient and surgeon characteristics and hospital-specific fixed effects (effectively comparing IMG and USMG surgeons within the same hospital). We also conducted stratified analyses by patients’ severity of illness and procedure type.Results:We found no evidence that patient outcomes differ between IMG and USMG surgeons for operative mortality [adjusted mortality, 7.3% for IMGs vs 7.3% for USMGs; adjusted odds ratio (aOR), 1.01; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.96–1.05; P = 0.79], complication rate (adjusted complication rate, 0.6% vs 0.6%; aOR, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.85–1.06; P = 0.43), and LOS (adjusted LOS, 6.6 days vs 6.6 days; adjusted difference, +0.02 days; 95% CI, −0.05 to +0.08; P = 0.54). We also found no difference when we stratified by severity of illness and procedures.Conclusion:Using national data of Medicare beneficiaries who underwent common surgical procedures, we found no evidence that outcomes differ between IMG and USMG surgeons.

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