Study: EMS Care Not Good Enough for Stroke Patients
Hospitals are often not alerted that incoming patients have suffered a stroke, new research shows. The failure to notify the emergency room can dangerously delay treatment.
Studies by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association showed that when EMS technicians alerted ERs of the patient’s stroke condition, patients got quicker treatment.
The research was conducted to see if hospitals participating in a quality-improvement program for ER stroke patients had improved their treatment time. Although the rate of ER notification showed improvement, from 58 percent of cases in 2003 to 67 percent of cases in 2011, the associations emphasized the need for further improvement.
“Despite national guidelines recommending pre-notification by EMS for acute stroke patients, it's disappointing that there's been little improvement," senior author Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, of the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a statement. "However, with these powerful new findings demonstrating substantial benefits with pre-notification, we have a tremendous opportunity to make positive changes in this component of stroke care."
And although the overall rate of advance notification was 67 percent, the rate varied widely by region, the study showed. In Montana, hospitals were notified in 93.4 percent of cases, while in Washington, D.C. the figure was 19.7 percent.
“The large variations by state and hospital are really striking and should be a concern because the potential for ideal patient care isn’t being met,” Fonarow said. “This tells us what we need to target EMS education…The goal is that EMS provides advanced notification for every potential stroke patient being transported.”