Need for neurology specialists to be dedicated to hospital care in Italy
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- de Falco, F.A. & Inzitari, D. Neurol Sci (2013) 34: 2193. doi:10.1007/s10072-013-1446-1
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Any patients admitted to healthcare facilities with a neurological diseases deserves to be managed by a neurologist. This is particularly important for acute onset neurological disorders, because of their severity and the requirement of early and appropriate diagnostic–therapeutic approach. In addition, this may reduce both unnecessary admissions and length of stay, with a significant saving of resources for the National Health System (NHS). To ensure this, it is important to evaluate predictable needs for hospital neurologists in Italy. The hospital discharges for neurological medical diseases of the Major Disease Category (MDC) 1 were 455,132 in 2009 and 491,836 in 2008, more than 50 % of which were acute neurological disorders. Stroke and transient ischemic attacks (TIA) accounted for about 170,000 per year. Currently available neurologists in Italian healthcare facilities are largely insufficient to assist such a large number of patients. The 270 Neurological Care Units in Italy (of which 243 open to the emergency care) are equipped with an average number of 7.7 neurologists per unit, inadequate to ensure on duty care 24 h a day, 7 days a week. In addition, the mean age of hospital neurologists is quite high, with provision for large retirement. It is therefore required to increase in the next few years the number of neurologists by at least 30 %, with an increase of 562 units. To meet the need for neurology specialists committed to hospital care in Italy is also necessary to increase the number of scholarships for residents in post-graduate schools.