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Neurologist Care Linked to Decreased Death Risk in Parkinson’s Disease

STOCKHOLM – Treatment by a neurologist improves overall care for patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD), and may ultimately reduce death risk, according to a study released today at the 18th International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders.

Peter Schmidt, PhD, of the National Parkinson Foundation, and Allison Willis, at the University of Pennsylvania, conducted a data analysis to identify the magnitude of deaths for PD patients treated by a neurologist in comparison to primary care. Using the method of empirical Bayes, Schmidt and Willis calculated the fraction of the population treated by a neurologist, combined with the relative risk of death for individuals with PD who are treated by a neurologist versus those managed in primary care. Based on the model, improved survival for patients receiving neurologist care prevented 4,645 deaths in 2011, and the extension of neurologist care to patients not currently receiving it would have further reduced overall mortality by another 6,967 patients.

Christopher G. Goetz, MD, MDS Officer and Director of the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorder program at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, states: “Parkinson’s disease is not a particularly common disorder that generalists will see on an everyday basis; in contrast, in a neurological practice, community or academic, Parkinson’s disease is a common disorder so that neurologists have much more exposure to patients in all stages of the disease. Further, educational efforts related to Parkinson’s disease are part of almost all general neurology meetings, local, regional and national. The data from this current study may be debated in terms of the details of the analysis, but they strongly show that neurological care and expertise favors a positive outcome for patients affected by Parkinson’s disease.”

About the 18th International Congress of Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders:
Meeting attendees are gathered to learn the latest research findings and state-of-the-art treatment options in Movement Disorders, including Parkinson's disease. Over 4,000 physicians and medical professionals from more than 80 countries will be able to view over 1,600 scientific abstracts submitted by clinicians from around the world.

About the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society:
The International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society (MDS), an international society of over 4,500 clinicians, scientists, and other healthcare professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. For more information about MDS, visit