Code Stroke on the Ward: study finds that care lags for people who have a stroke in hospital
Delays in care could be related to lack of standard protocols on wards
Vancouver ─ At the first sign of a stroke, time is of the essence. For every minute of delay in treatment, people typically lose almost two million brain cells. Yet a new study presented at the Canadian Stroke Congress reveals that those delays – in getting the right tests and the right drugs – can be longer when people experience a stroke in a hospital.
Investigators from the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine, the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and the University Health Network looked at data from acute care facilities in Ontario over nine years. They examined stroke care delivery and outcomes for two groups: those who had a stroke in the community (about 32,000 people), and those who had a stroke while already hospitalized for another reason (just over 1,000 cases), such as, for example, a hip replacement. The results were surprising.
Compared to the patients brought into a hospital from the community, people with in-hospital strokes:
- waited significantly longer from the time stroke symptoms were recognized to neuroimaging (i.e., a CT scan);
- waited longer from the time a stroke was confirmed to getting clot-busting drugs; and
- were less likely to receive clot-busting drugs than those who were admitted following strokes outside of hospitals, even when they were eligible.
Hot topic in stroke: awareness of the signs
Whether people have a stroke in the community or in the hospital, the clock is ticking.
- Weakness: Sudden weakness, numbness or tingling in the face, arm or leg.
- Trouble speaking: Sudden temporary loss of speech or trouble understanding speech.
- Vision problems: Sudden loss of vision, particularly in one eye, or double vision.
- Headache: Sudden severe and unusual headache.
- Dizziness: Sudden loss of balance, especially with any of the above signs.
Congress information and media registration is at www.strokecongress.ca
The Heart and Stroke Foundation. heartandstroke.ca