The neurologist treats disorders that affect the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. The University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY, lists disorders under the purview of the neurologist:
- Cerebrovascular disease, such as stroke
- Demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis
- Headache disorders
- Infections of the brain and peripheral nervous system
- Movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease
- Neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Seizure disorders, such as epilepsy
- Spinal cord disorders
- Speech and language disorders
Neurologists do not perform surgery. When a patient requires surgery, he or she is referred to a neurosurgeon. In the news, the Medical Board of California has disciplined neurologist Dr. Sung-Un Park who did not follow this protocol. Dr. Park repeatedly prescribed medications to a patient who in actuality needed surgery to remove a skull tumor. The 58-year-old male patient began experiencing headaches in July 2010. Results of an MRI ordered by his primary care physician detected a mass developing on the patient’s skull. The patient was referred to Dr. Park.
The neurologist told the patient he was suffering from tension headaches and over the course of treatment prescribed pain medication, an antidepressant, sleeping pills, and an anti-epilepsy drug. In February 2012, a biopsy was taken at Long Beach Memorial Hospital and the patient was admitted into surgery for removal of the tumor on his skull. After finding that Dr. Park’s treatment of the patient had been “an extreme departure from the standard of care,” the neurologist was placed on probation by the Medical Board of California.