Educational outcome measures, known to be associated with the quality of care, are needed to support improvements in graduate medical education (GME). This retrospective observational study sought to determine whether there was a relationship between the specialty board certification rates of GME training institutions and the quality of care delivered by their graduates. It is based on 7 years of hospitalizations in Pennsylvania (N = 354,767) with diagnoses of acute myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, or pneumonia. The 2,265 attending physicians were self-identified internists, and they completed their training in 59 institutions. The percentage of board-certified physicians from each training institution, excluding the physician herself or himself, was calculated and an indicator of whether it exceeded 80% was created. This was analyzed against inhospital mortality and length of stay, adjusted for patient/physician/hospital characteristics. There were significantly lower odds of mortality (adjusted Odd's ratio [OR] = .92, 95% CI [0.86, 0.98]) and log length of stay (adjusted OR = .98, 95% CI [.94, .99]) when the attending physician trained in a residency program with an 80% or greater certification rate. The results suggest that specialty certification rates may be a useful educational outcome for residency training programs.
Keywords: certification; graduate medical education; internal medicine; patient outcomes; program evaluation.