Abstract WMP89: Stroke Code De-escalation Safety and Outcomes

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Introduction: “Stroke codes” (SCs) facilitate the timely treatment of acute ischemic stroke (AIS) with IV tPA or intra-arterial thrombectomy (IAT), but are inherently resource-intensive and can expose patients to unnecessary and potentially harmful interventions. While all healthcare providers are encouraged to activate SCs, this might lead to low SC-to-treatment-ratios (SCTR). We examined the impact of de-escalation of stroke codes (DSCs) on SCTR.Methods: DSCs were initiated in our institution in January 2015. All DSCs were reviewed for the patient’s eligibility for IV tPA or IAT, and reason for de-escalation. We reviewed all stroke codes 12 months before and after the initiation of this process and compared the SCTR by chi-squared testing.Results: In 2014, prior to DSCs, 253 SCs resulted in 22 AIS interventions (22 IV tPA) for a SCTR of 8.7%. In 2015, 348 SCs were activated with 64 subsequent DSCs (18.4%) and 45 AIS interventions (38 IV tPA, 7 IAT, 7 both), for a SCTR of 15.8%. The improvement in SCTR after introducing DSCs was statistically significant (p=0.012). When restricting the analysis to IV tPA interventions alone, there remained a trend (p=0.068) towards improvement in SCTR. Retrospective chart review did not reveal any DSC cases that resulted in missed opportunity for IV TPA or IAT treatment. No DSCs were due to an acute ICH. Justifications for de-escalations are summarized in figure 1.Conclusions: The introduction of DSCs resulted in a statistically significant absolute improvement in SCTR of 7.1%. Importantly, DSCs did not result in any eligible AIS patient forgoing IV tPA or IAT, nor missed ICH. More research is needed to increase the yield of stroke codes, refine the criteria for both activating and de-escalating them, and quantify the resource and cost implications of such de-escalations.

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