President Donald Trump’s quest to limit immigration into the United States might have an impact on health care, according to a recent study published in the BMJ.
For the study, researchers from Harvard’s Chan School of Public Health found that patients under the care of foreign-born doctors are more likely to live when compared to patients of U.S.-born physicians. The data — compiled from a national sample from 2011 to 2014 — measured more than 1.2 million hospital admissions and 44,000 doctors.
The results? Patients cared for by American doctors had a mortality rate of 11.7 percent, compared to 11.1 percent mortality rate for international doctors.
That seems like a tiny difference, but it’s actually pretty significant.
“For every 250 patients treated by US medical graduates, one patient’s life would be saved if the quality of care were equivalent between the international graduates and US graduates,” lead study author Yusuke Tsugawa and team wrote in the study.
In other words, more people would live if all doctors — both U.S.- and foreign-born — gave the same quality of care.
The researchers admit that they have no explanation for the difference, but it “should reassure policymakers and the public that our current approach to licensing international medical graduates in the US is sufficiently rigorous to ensure high-quality care.”
And this study comes at a critical time in U.S. immigration policy. In August, Trump introduced legislation to cap the number of legal immigrants coming into the country each year. “Highly skilled” immigrants — like doctors — would be given priority, according to the legislation, but such a limit can have an impact “on both the quantity and quality of the US health system,” Tsugawa told Vice.
“One in four doctors in the US are international medical graduates, and therefore, the ban has a major impact on the US health workforce and whether American people can get good access to care.”
“America has a history of attracting the best and brightest from around the world and that appears to be true in medicine as well,” senior author Ashish Jha, a professor of health policy and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute added in a study press release.
“We hope that we are able to maintain that openness because the biggest beneficiaries of these doctors coming to the US have been the American people.”