That distinction was even greater than the variations between doctors educated at home versus abroad, Norcini says.
The study also looked at length-of-stay as a measure of quality, and found that patients of doctors who were U.S. medical school graduates had the shortest lengths-of-stay and the patients of U.S. citizen doctors who were international graduates had the longest.
"The take-home lesson is to look for a doctor with board certification who's involved in a maintenance of competency program. That's more important than where the doctor went to medical school."
Norcini, however, is worried about the implications of his report on the current growth of U.S. medical schools now underway, estimated to increase the number of student spots by between 20% and 25%.
As that happens, some U.S. citizens who previously went to foreign medical schools because they couldn't get into U.S. medical schools may now be accepted by U.S. medical institutions, Norcini said.