In the October issue of the journal Neurology, Willis and colleagues addressed the impact neurologist care has on hospitalization. Willis and colleagues recently reported in another paper that the involvement of a neurologist in the care of Parkinson’s disease patients reduced morbidity, decreased nursing home placement, and improved overall survival. The researchers examined Medicare beneficiaries over a four year period, and identified those with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. There were 24,929 cases, and of those cases 13,489 had a neurologist involved in their outpatient care. Hospitalizations and repeat hospitalizations occurred less in those who had seen an outpatient neurologist. Those with an outpatient neurologist were less likely to be hospitalized for psychosis, urinary tract infection, or traumatic injuries.
The bottom line for the Parkinson’s disease patient is that having a neurologist involved in your care makes a big difference. Morbidity, mortality, and hospitalization are all curbed by the involvement of a specialist. This current study did not assess whether a neurologist was actually involved in patient’s care when checked in to the hospital, but did assess whether the patient had seen a neurologist as an outpatient prior to their hospitalization. The main finding of the study was that neurologist care reduced hospitalization risk. Outcomes would likely be even better if Parkinson patients could have regularly scheduled visits with a neurologist. The dream scenario would be for patients to retain a neurologist with Parkinson’s disease specialty training, though worldwide there are few of these available.
You can find out more about our National Medical Director, Dr. Michael S. Okun, by also visiting the Center of Excellence, University of Florida Health Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration. Dr. Okun is also the author of the Amazon #1 Parkinson's Best Seller 10 Secrets to a Happier Life and 10 Breakthrough Therapies for Parkinson's Disease.