Background: Best practice recommends that hospitals treating acute stroke patients have protocols in place to ensure rapid transfer to an advanced facility for a higher level of care, if needed. Our system of hospitals consists of five primary stroke centers (PSC) and one comprehensive stroke center (CSC) in a major metropolitan area. PSCs utilize telemedicine for acute stroke decision-making and patients are transferred to the CSC for consideration of advanced treatments when deemed appropriate by the care team.
Purpose: Our study objective was to streamline processes at our PSCs to decrease the door to transport time (DTT) to the CSC.
Methods: Stroke coordinators from the six sister hospitals meet quarterly to collaborate and share best practices in patient care. Our team of nurse leaders determined potential strategies to eliminate wasted time in the transfer process. Team members went back to their home facilities with the goal of generating buy-in from individual caregivers to decrease the time to transport out to the CSC. An overall attitude of urgency was encouraged during meetings with stroke councils and providers. Preliminary imaging results were used to guide decision to transfer, rather than waiting for final results. Some hospitals chose to notify the flight team of potential transport earlier in the emergency department stay, while others are still in the process of affecting change. We collected data on transferred patients with a diagnosis of acute stroke between the dates of 2/1/15-7/31/15 (n=23) and compared against the same time period in 2014 (n=11).
Results: A total of 34 patients were included in our retrospective chart review. The number of patients transferred for consideration of additional acute treatment increased from 11 in 2014 to 23 during the study period in 2015. When examining patients who transferred and actually received endovascular treatment for acute stroke (n=8 in 2014 versus n=11 in 2015), the mean DTT decreased from 84 minutes in 2014, to 77 minutes in 2015. We also noted that patient transfers were faster during day time hours when compared to night.
Conclusions: A system-wide, collaborative approach between PSCs and CSCs can decrease DTT when nurse leaders and providers streamline processes.