Introduction: With enhanced treatment options but limited resources, acute stroke care is becoming regionalized. Regional pre-hospital triage plans are being developed to permit bypass of certain hospitals in order to deliver patients to hospitals with higher-level resources for advanced treatment options. One of the most contentious issues in these plans is the “bypass time”_time allowed for EMS to bypass one hospital in order to transport to a hospital with presumed higher level stroke care.
Hypothesis: Incorporating transport times and individual hospital door-to-needle times (DNTs) into regional pre-hospital triage bypass plans will expedite regional treatment times which may lead to improved patient outcomes at the system level.
Methods: To minimize onset-to-needle times (ONTs), it is essential not only to find the fastest route to the nearest capable hospital, but to find the nearest capable hospital with the shortest DNTs. We examined specific time components comprising ONT, including Onset-to-Arrival times (OATs) and DNTs using Get-with-the-Guidelines data (GWTG), comparing the hospital with fastest DTN times (Hospital A) with that of the average in the St. Louis metropolitan area.
Results: Hospital A had a mean DNT that was 20 min faster than the average St. Louis DNT (31 min vs. 51 min, p<.0.001), while OATs were not different. This 20 min advantage might be translated into a longer bypass time specifically for hospital A, to provide equivalent or faster ONTs for patients in the region.
Conclusion: The incorporation of hospital DNTs into regional pre-hospital triage plans can individualize bypass times for each hospital. This practice may accelerate treatment times throughout a region, and could be trialed with the aid of web-based smartphone application that could provide EMS with important information that could minimize both transport times and DNTs.