US News medical school rankings have little effect on patient outcomes, study finds

There is little or no relation between U.S. News & World Report's ranking of the medical school a physician attended and subsequent patient mortality or readmission rates, a study published in The BMJ found.

The researchers set out to investigate whether U.S. News medical school rankings are linked to patient outcomes and healthcare spending by examining a random sample of Medicare beneficiaries. The patients were admitted as an emergency to a hospital with a medical condition and treated by general internists.

In all, the researchers looked at 996,212 admissions treated by 30,322 physicians. When using U.S. News primary care rankings, physicians who graduated from higher-ranked schools had slightly lower 30-day readmission rates and lower spending compared to physicians who graduated from lower-ranked schools. The researchers found no difference in 30-day mortality. 

"Overall, little or no relation was found between the [U.S. News] ranking of the medical school from which a physician graduated and subsequent patient mortality or readmission rates," the researchers concluded. "Physicians who graduated from highly ranked medical schools had slightly lower spending than graduates of lower ranked schools."

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