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Neurosurgeon Availability Affects Motor Vehicle Deaths

Last Updated: July 25, 2012.

In the United States, counties with a higher population density of neurosurgeons report significantly fewer deaths due to motor vehicle accidents, according to research published online July 24 in the Journal of Neurosurgery.

WEDNESDAY, July 25 (HealthDay News) -- In the United States, counties with a higher population density of neurosurgeons report significantly fewer deaths due to motor vehicle accidents (MVAs), according to research published online July 24 in the Journal of Neurosurgery.

Atman Desai, M.D., of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., and colleagues conducted a retrospective study using data from a national health resource information database. The authors sought to determine the three-year average in MVA deaths per million persons for each county in the United States and whether it was related to neurosurgeon population density.

The researchers found that, overall, a median 226 MVA deaths occurred per million population in the U.S. counties analyzed. Every increase of one neurosurgeon per million persons was associated with 1.90 fewer deaths due to MVAs per million persons. After adjusting for potential confounders, each increase of one neurosurgeon per million people was associated with 1.01 fewer MVA deaths per million people. In contrast, adding one general practitioner per million persons was estimated to reduce MVA deaths by 0.03 per million persons. Significantly higher MVA death rates occurred in rural areas, areas with low education, and areas with persistent poverty.

"A higher population density of neurosurgeons is associated with a significant reduction in deaths from MVAs across U.S. counties," the authors write. "These data suggest that availability of local neurosurgeons may be an important factor in the overall likelihood of survival from MVAs, and therefore indicates the importance of promoting neurosurgical education and practice throughout the country."

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