Background: Time lost is brain lost. The ASA’s Target Stroke strategies were reviewed to improve Door to CT (DTCT) and Door to Needle (DTN) times. Taking acute stroke patients direct from triage to the CT scanner can reduce thrombolysis treatment times, which may improve patient outcomes. In April 2015, the JFK Comprehensive Stroke Center introduced a Direct to CT policy for acute stroke patients who are assessed to be acute by the JFK EMS service.
Method: We performed a prospective pilot study comparing door-to-CT times (DTCT) and door-to-needle (DTN) times pre- and post-implementation of Direct to CT policy, and analyzed patient characteristics, Emergency Department (ED) presentation time, adverse effects, protocol violations and patient outcomes. Delays in treatment, enablers and barriers to treatment were also examined. The purpose was to look at feasibility and maintenance of quality when applied to a larger subset of patients.
Results: There was no statistical difference in demographics or clinical factors in patients who presented pre- (2013, 2014, n= 621) or post- Direct to CT (April 20-June 20, 2015 n=22). However, a reduction in mean DTCT times (21 mins vs. 8.7 mins, p<.0001) and DTN times (55 mins vs. 19 mins, p<.0001) was seen. There was no increase in adverse outcomes (7% vs. 0%) in patients taken Direct to CT. There was no difference in patient outcomes, however the current study size is small. Numerous barriers to Direct to CT were identified at the pre-hospital, ED, CT and stroke team levels. These issues included ED resources, hospital geography and space, and stroke team decision making. Some of these concerns are ongoing and will take time and effort to overcome. Strengths noted were the EMS capability of pre-hospital Intravenous line establishment, blood draws, and EKG performance as well as IV tPA initiation in the CT area.
Conclusions: Taking patients Direct to CT has significantly reduced time to evaluation, DTCT, and DTN and further improvements may be achieved through resolution of identified barriers.