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Study: More specialists can mean fewer stroke deaths

December 3, 2012

Having more neurologists and neurosurgeons in a county is associated with fewer deaths from stroke, according to a study published last week in the Journal of Neurosurgery. The study by researchers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH, examined stroke deaths between 2004 through 2006 and density of neurologists and neurosurgeons per million people in 3,141 U.S. counties. After accounting for county urbanicity, socioeconomic conditions and the density of general practitioners, an increase of one neurologist or neurosurgeon was associated with 0.38 fewer deaths from stroke per million people. The mean number of neurologists and neurosurgeons in a county was 21, with most counties having none. "The study highlights the key role that specialist providers can play in improving public health outcomes," said Atman Desai, M.D., a neurosurgery resident who led the study.