-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Aug. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Parkinson's disease
patients who receive care from a neurologist live longer and are
less likely to break a hip or need nursing-home placement than
those treated by a primary care doctor, according to a new
American researchers looked at the medical records of all
138,000 Medicare patients diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in
2002. Between that time and 2005, 68 percent of the patients were
seen by a neurologist.
Over six years, the patients seen by a neurologist were 20
percent less likely to die, 20 percent less likely to be placed in
a nursing home, and 14 percent less likely to suffer a broken hip
than patients seen by a primary care doctor.
The researchers also found that women were 22 percent less
likely than men to see a neurologist and that minorities were 17
percent less likely than whites to see a neurologist.
The study is published online Aug. 10 in the journal
"We need to understand how care may affect people's health care outcomes to improve the quality of life for people with Parkinson's and also to minimize any avoidable health care costs," study author Dr. Allison Wright Willis, of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said in a journal news release.
Previous research found that the direct one-year per-person cost
of a hip fracture is as much as $26,000.
"Of course, the benefit to people with Parkinson's disease and their families of avoiding a hip fracture or delaying the need for nursing home placement is immeasurable," Wright Willis said.
As to the difference in type of care, it could be that
complicated cases of Parkinson's occur more often among certain
groups, Willis speculated. Also, perhaps women don't ask for
specialist care as often as men, she added.
The researchers did not take into account disease severity,
which may be a limitation of the study, an accompanying editorial
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