Comprehensive Stroke Center Designation Doesn't Come Easily

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , January 10, 2013

Gregory Albers, MD, director of the Stanford Stroke Center at Stanford Hospital and Clinics in Palo, Alto, CA, calls it a tough process. The stroke team leader recalled that the Joint Commission asked how long it took for neurosurgeons to get to the operating room. Albers told them. Then they asked to see the data that proved it.

As Carter told me, the Joint Commission not only evaluates records and outcomes, but also the necessity for "team-based" approaches, as well as proof of the roles that practitioners and nurses play in providing care. In addition, the commission focused on patient safety and patients' understanding of procedures following discharge, Carter says.

What's more, some of the Joint Commission's insightful questions prompted the UC San Diego Medical Center to re-examine their procedures in stroke care, Carter said. In fact, that response reflects how they made their journey toward the Comprehensive Stroke Center designation in the first place.

Several years ago, as they examined their primary stroke care program, officials of the UC San Diego Medical Center found there were gaps in stroke care for the city's aging population.

While primary stroke centers can handle many patients, certain other patients with severe conditions required a higher level of care, which the hospital believed it wasn't providing.

San Diego then took steps to target patients who too often fall through the cracks in stroke care, according to Thomas Hemmen, MD, PhD, director of the stroke program at UC San Diego Medical Center.

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