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Areas With More Surgeons Have Fewer Car Crash Deaths

Study highlights need for treating surgery as primary care, developing inclusive surgical systems

THURSDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- Areas with more surgeons available have fewer deaths from motor vehicle crashes (MVCs), according to a study published online March 29 in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

David C. Chang, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the University of California in San Diego, and colleagues investigated the effect of surgeon availability on the death rate from MVCs in 3,225 U.S. counties. They considered how the three-year (2001 to 2003) average number of MVC deaths per one-million population in each county varied with the number of surgeons per one-million population in the year 2003. They adjusted for factors, including the density of general practitioners, urban or rural setting, and the county's socioeconomic status.

The researchers found that, after adjusting for confounders, each increase of one surgeon per million people was significantly linked with 0.16 fewer MVC deaths per million people. By contrast, increasing the number of general practitioners did not have a significant impact on MVC deaths. Rural areas, poverty, and low levels of education were all linked with significantly higher MVC death rates.

"Higher density of surgeons is associated with a significant reduction in deaths from MVCs. This highlights the need for 1) consideration of surgery as primary care and 2) development of inclusive surgical systems designed to provide care commensurate with patients' degree of injury," the authors write.

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