SynopsisA Massachusetts study found many of the criteria available to patients when selecting a physician—including years of experience, paid malpractice claims, and medical school rankings—are not associated with higher quality care.
- Three of the characteristics studied were associated with marginal differences in performance quality: female physicians scored 1.6 percentage points higher than male physicians; board-certified physicians scored 3.3 points higher than physicians without board certification; and U.S.-trained physicians scored 1 point higher than physicians trained abroad.
- There were no statistically significant associations between performance and malpractice claims, disciplinary actions, years of practice, medical school ranking, or type of medical degree (i.e., allopathic vs. osteopathic).
- The difference in overall performance between the average physician with the best combination of characteristics (female, board-certified, domestically trained) and the average physician with the worst combination (male, noncertified, internationally trained) is only 5.9 percent.
- Among the middle 90 percent of physicians studied who had the best combination of characteristics, there was a wide range of performance scores—from 49 percent to 75 percent—very similar to the range for all physicians. This suggests that patients are unlikely to receive higher-quality care by switching to a physician who has these characteristics.