Introduction: Literature on the effectiveness of simulation based medical education programs used in acute ischemic stroke (AIS) care is scant. In an effort to improve coordination and door to needle time (DNT) for AIS care, a stroke simulation education training program for neurology nursing staff and neurology residents was implemented in a comprehensive stroke center.
Methods: Hospital stroke registry was used for retrospective analysis. The study population was defined as all patients treated with IV-tPA for AIS in the emergency room from October 2008 to September 2014. Simulation training was implemented yearly, for a three month period starting from July 2011. All neurology residents and a group of nurses trained to respond to all AIS cases participated. Simulations were standardized, using deliberate practice with a trained live actor portraying stroke vignettes in the presence of a board certified vascular neurologist. During the period of study, there were no changes in Emergency Department stroke triage protocol, or changes in first provider response to AIS. The data was analyzed using IBM SPSS24 software.
Results: We identified 448 patients admitted with AIS who were treated with IV-tPA. The average DNT on univariate analysis before and after intervention was 67.9 and 58.3 minutes [p <0.001]. A multivariate linear regression analysis was performed controlling for age, night/day shift, weekday/weekend, and blood pressure at presentation (>185/110). After controlling for confounders we found that simulation training independently reduced the DNT by 9.64 minutes [95% confidence interval (CI) 4.01 - 15.28, p=0.001]. Amongst other co-variates, only the systolic blood pressure >185 was associated with 14.27 minutes of delay in DNT [95% CI 3.36 - 25.191, p=0.011].
Conclusion: Time to thrombolysis from symptom onset is a critical factor in AIS management and evidence shows improving the DNT could improve patient outcomes. In our six year study, integration of simulation based medical education for AIS reduced the average DNT by 9.64 minutes in multivariate analysis. Simulation based medical education therefore should be considered as a standard process for providers involved in the care of AIS patients receiving thrombolytic treatment.