Reuters reports that black patients are 28% and Hispanic patients 39% less likely to see a neurologist. 

Geography may explain some of these disparities, because outpatient neurological services are more widely available in regions like the Northeast, while there are fewer specialists in parts of the Southeastern U.S. where far more people have neurologic disorders requiring specialty care, the authors note.

One limitation of the study is that excludes people living in nursing homes and other institutional settings where many patients with seizures and dementia may reside, the authors point out. Researchers also lacked data on individual patient or physician choices or preferences about care, which might have influenced whether some people received outpatient neurology services.

Even so, the findings suggest that insufficient outpatient care may be disproportionately driving certain racial groups to the emergency room, said Dr. Jorge Burneo, a neurology researcher at Western University in London, Ontario, who wasn’t involved in the study.