Background: Ultra-early thrombolysis [onset-to-treatment time (OTT) < 90 min], leads to better clinical outcomes. We utilized lean manufacturing principles to re-choreograph patient flow such that tPA was delivered in the CT scanner rather than moving the patient to a separate treatment room. We tested the efficiency and safety of a “Treat-in-CT” protocol comparing metrics and outcomes before and after implementation.
Methods: In July 2014, a LEAN rapid improvement event was conducted to design a “Treat-in-CT” stroke protocol. Several changes included: (1) Vital signs monitors and point of care glucose and INR were placed near the scanner. (2) Computer monitors were placed in the scanner to allow for rapid charting and order entry. (3) Local EMS crews, physicians, nursing staff, and CT technicians were trained on parallel work-flow in the scanner. The “Treat-in-CT” protocol went live 10/1/2014. We directly compared the “Pre” and “Post” Treat-in-CT epochs (1/2013-9/2014 and 10/2014-8/2015, respectively) with regard to baseline variables, metrics, and outcomes. Non-parametric statistics were used with p<0.05 required for significance.
Results: In the Pre- and Post-Treat-in-CT epochs, 139 and 74 patients were treated with IV tPA, respectively. Baseline variables were similar between the two epochs. Median door-to-needle time was lower in the Post-Treat-in-CT epoch: 38 min pre vs. 29 min post (p=0.002) with a trend towards lower OTT: 131 min pre vs. 100 min post (p=0.07). To ensure that efficiency did not impact safety, favorable discharge location (87% pre vs. 81% post, p=0.3), symptomatic hemorrhage rate (2.9% pre vs. 1.5% post, p=1.0), stroke mimic rate, and 90 day mRS were compared and did not differ.
Conclusions: The AHA Target: Stroke-Phase II guidelines recommend administration of tPA bolus while in the CT scanner. A “Treat-in-CT” acute stroke protocol using efficient choreography and parallel processing expedited tPA delivery without compromising safety.