Neurologists are specialty doctors that diagnose and treat conditions of the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system.
Currently, there are about 16,400 neurologists in the United States.
To become a neurologist, students first need to attend medical school and graduate with either a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or a Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.). After graduation, doctors will complete a 1-year internship in either general surgery or internal medicine. The choice will depend on the subspecialty of neurology the doctor has chosen to study.
After the internship, doctors need to complete a 3 to 4-year residency program in neurology where they will gain experience diagnosing and treating a variety of neurological issues.
Neurologists can also choose to complete a 1 to 2-year fellowship program and subspecialize in a specific field of neurology like:
- Pediatric neurology
- Headache medicine
- Autonomic disorders
- Vascular neurology
- Sleep medicine
- Neurodevelopmental disabilities
Doctors need a medical license to practice medicine in any state in the US. The requirements for the licenses are controlled at the state level and will vary from state to state. These medical licenses will allow doctors to practice all types of medicine in the state, but will not show any specific qualifications in one area of medicine.
Neurologists receive board certification through the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN). To gain certification, doctors must meet certain professional requirements and must pass a lengthy exam. Neurologists will maintain certification by taking continued education classes, and eventually by retaking the certification exams.
Where Neurologists Work
Neurologists work in hospitals, clinics, and universities and may spend their time treating patients, conducting research, or teaching students. They can work directly with patients and order and interpret diagnostic tests, or can work on clinical studies and spend time writing and publishing research.
How They Help People
Neurologists have a broad understanding of physiology and understand how the brain and nervous system are connected to a variety of conditions. A patient with a stroke may be seen by a cardiologist, but if the stroke affected blood oxygen levels in the brain, a neurologist will also need to check the patient.
Neurologists will begin care by assessing and diagnosing the patient. The doctor will talk to the patient about their medical history, and will complete a full physical examination. The neurologist will perform a variety of diagnostic tests including a neurological exam to assess the level of brain function and imaging tests like CT or MRI scans to locate specific problems.
Neurologists treat conditions like:
- Parkinson's disease
- Alzheimer's disease
- Sleep disorders
- Brain and spinal cord injuries
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Brain tumors
Neurologists will work with patients who suffer chronic conditions and with patients in emergency situations. They will provide therapy to patients who have suffered injuries from a stroke or seizure and have lost motor function, and they will prevent conditions in patients by treating early symptoms of a neurological disorder like tingling or numbness in limbs. Neurologists also know how to treat a variety of infectious diseases that affect the brain and nervous system, like meningitis.
Neurologists and neurosurgeons treat many of the same conditions, but neurosurgeons specifically specialize in invasive treatments of neurological disorders whereas neurologists treat a wide variety of neurological disorders using non-invasive or minimally invasive treatments like medication. When a patient of a neurologist needs a surgical treatment they will be referred to a neurosurgeon.
Neurologists will provide treatments like anti-epileptic medication, steroids to relieve inflammation, anticoagulant drugs to relieve strokes and prevent blood clots, and physical therapy.
Medical Negligence and Neurologists
Neurologists assess the movement, cognition, memory, feeling, and balance of their patients to determine an accurate diagnosis of a neurological condition. When doctors fail to fully understand the extent of a neurological condition, patients may be left with lifelong injuries or worse.
Medical negligence in neurology can occur through a missed or delayed diagnosis, by trauma during a treatment, or through a medication error. Most medical malpractice cases in neurology are the result of a diagnosis error.
Malpractice can also occur when neurologists:
- Fail to monitor their patient's case
- Fail to communicate with the patient about the treatment
- Over-prescribe drugs
- Improperly perform a procedure
- Fail to treat complications
- Complete an overly invasive procedure
- Delay a referral to another doctor (like a neurosurgeon)
Malpractice in neurology can result in medication overdoses and other negative reactions to medication, hypoxia or reduced oxygen to the brain, and other life-long injuries.
The average compensation payment for neurology malpractice claims is over $300,000, making compensation rewards some of the highest for all malpractice claims.
Experienced Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorneys
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury while under the care of a neurologist, call our offices today to schedule a free consultation and to speak with a medical malpractice attorney.
Neurological malpractice claims are difficult and complex. Our Maryland malpractice attorneys have the skill and experience to assess your case and get you the compensation you deserve. We have a licensed physician on staff who will help assess your case and determine instances of medical negligence.
Call us today at (800) 529-6162 to schedule your free consultation.