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Surgeon availability tied to survival rate in vehicle crashes
Date:3/27/2011

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine claim that the availability of surgeons is a critical factor in public health and suggest that surgery should become an important part of the primary health care system.

A recent study led by David C. Chang, PhD, MPH, MBA, director of Outcomes Research in the Department of Surgery at UCSD School of Medicine, points out that surgery in the United States continues to be seen as tertiary care and is mainly centered at large urban hospitals, creating an unequal distribution of surgical providers. The report, to be published on line in the Journal of American College of Surgeons March 28, shows that the insufficient availability of surgeons in certain regions of the country significantly lowers the quality of patient care and leads to unnecessary loss of lives.

To investigate how access to surgical care impacts health outcomes, Chang and colleagues focused on motor vehicle crashes (MVC) one of the leading causes of deaths in the United States. The researchers examined the relationship between the three-year average of MVC-related deaths and the availability of surgeons across 3,225 counties in the United States. After adjusting for factors such as density of population, urban versus rural location, and socioeconomic status, they found that there was a significant inverse association between the number of surgeons and the number of road traffic injury-related deaths, especially in rural areas.

Regions with a larger number of surgeons showed lower mortality rates, suggesting that motor vehicle crash victims may get more timely surgical treatment, and therefore be at lower risk of death. According to the study, an increase of one surgeon per million persons in population was associated with 0.16 fewer MVC-related deaths. Importantly, the data also show that an increase in the number of general practitioners would not provide the same benefits.

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Contact: Debra Kain or Maja Gawronska
ddkain@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

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