Background: Large community hospitals often face multiple challenges in the emergent care of acute stroke patients. Some of these challenges include decreasing door to IV tPA (activase) time and consistently meeting core measures. The 24/7 utilization of specialized nurses (Stroke Clinicians) trained to respond to acute stroke patients in the ED and inpatient areas improves the outcomes for stroke patients. Utilizing the Stroke Clinician role for 24/7 response to all acute strokes improves each patient’s ability to access complex stroke treatment.
Purpose: The purpose of implementing 24/7 Stroke Clinician coverage for the ED and all inpatient units was to reduce door to needle times for patients receiving tpa, to increase stroke core measure compliance, and to improve patient outcomes. In addition to responding to acute strokes, the Stroke Clinicians also provide concurrent chart review and patient education.
Methods The role of the Stroke Clinician was expanded to provide acute stroke response coverage on a continual, 24/7 basis in the first quarter of 2015. Stroke Program administration discussed options for the expanded coverage and subsequently trained the Cardiovascular Clinicians to cover stroke call from 11pm to 7am. These clinicians were already in-house, thus no additional cost was associated with the coverage.
Results: The door to needle times have consistently decreased from an average of 70 minutes to an average of 50 minutes. There has been a steady improvement in patient outcomes evidenced by doubling the number of stroke patients who have received endovascular therapy since the prior year.
Conclusion: The implementation of 24 hours per day/7 days per week stroke clinician coverage improved IV tPA door to needle times, improved the utilization of endovascular stroke treatment, and improved compliance with the stroke core measures.