Avoiding in hospital delays and eliminating the three-hour effect in thrombolysis for stroke

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Abstract

Background

Intravenous thrombolysis for acute stroke is more efficient the earlier the treatment is initiated. In-hospital delays account for a significant proportion of avoidable time loss before treatment is initiated. Paradoxically, studies have reported longer door-to-needle times the earlier the patients arrive (‘three-hour effect’).

Hypothesis

We hypothesized that a standardized thrombolysis procedure carried out in a specialized neurological emergency room can minimize in-hospital delays and erase the ‘three-hour effect’.

Methods

Onset-to-door and door-to-needle times of 246 consecutive thrombolysis patients were analyzed. A standardized protocol designed to minimize in-hospital delays was tested using a resident-based stroke team within a neurological emergency room. Correlation of onset-to-door and door-to-needle times was measured as well as differences in treatment times for daytime versus night hours and weekend vs. weekday. Outcome, rate of symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage and mortality were compared with the results of SITS-MOST.

Results

Median door-to-needle time was 25 min compared with a mean of 68 min in SITS-MOST. door-to-needle time did not correlate with onset-to-door time (Pearson'sr=−0·097;P=0·13) and patients arriving within 90 min from symptom onset showed comparable door-to-needle times with patients arriving within 90–180 min. Neither treatment on weekends nor during night hours led to significant in-hospital treatment delays. Outcome and safety parameters were comparable with those observed in SITS-MOST.

Conclusions

By applying a standardized and diligently monitored thrombolysis protocol, carried out by a specialized stroke team within a neurological emergency room, in-hospital delays can be minimized. This allows improvement of door-to-needle times irrespective of the time to arrival and treatment during off-hours.

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