Hospitals should dramatically improve their acute stroke programs in 13 key areas to better care for 800,000 people in the U.S. who will suffer a stroke this year, according to recommendations from the Brain Attack Coalition,a group of experts dedicated to reducing stroke occurrence.
According to the coalition members, 77% of counties in the nation "lack a hospital with neurological services," and as a result "many patients with stroke are not treated according to contemporary guidelines."
The expanded guidelines, the first issued since 2000, are published in the September issue of the journal Stroke by lead author Mark J. Alberts, M.D., director of the stroke program at Northwestern Medical Center in Chicago and a longtime researcher on the causes and treatments for stroke. The article is co-authored with 18 members of the Brain Attack Coalition.
These guidelines apply to hospitals that wish to establish or improve a Primary Stroke Center (PSC). Such centers offer fewer services than a Comprehensive Stroke Center but are able to provide acute care, use acute therapies, and admit patients to a designated stroke unit. There are 800 PSCs certified by the Joint Commission and another 200 to 250 certified by various state agencies. PSCs typically treat around 400 stroke patients each year, are operated by facilities located in urban areas that are not academic medical centers.
"It is anticipated that if hospitals adopt and follow these recommendations, patients will achieve more accurate diagnoses, more timely therapies, and improved overall outcomes," Alberts and colleagues write.