Introduction: Patients who present to the hospital during off-hours receive sub-optimal care and experience worse outcomes, often attributed to reduced staffing. It is unknown whether stroke patients receive less guideline-adherent care and experience worse outcomes when medical providers attend scientific meetings. The AHA International Stroke Conference (ISC) is the premier US conference for cerebrovascular disease and is well attended by stroke clinicians.
Methods: The national Get With The Guidelines - Stroke (GWTG-Stroke) dataset was analyzed from 2009-2015 to identify acute ischemic stroke (AIS) patients admitted during: 1) the week of ISC, and 2) the 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after ISC. We compared adherence to GWTG-Stroke quality measures and outcomes for AIS patients admitted during these two time periods using univariable and multivariable analysis, including both patient and hospital level variables.
Results: Overall, 69,738 AIS patients were included, mean age 72, 52% female, and 29% non-white. There was no difference between the average weekly number of AIS cases admitted during ISC weeks versus non-ISC weeks (1,984 vs 1,997, p= 0.95). Patient and hospital characteristics were also similar between ISC vs. non-ISC time periods. No significant differences were noted in 14 quality of care metrics and 5 clinical outcomes between AIS patients treated during ISC vs. non-ISC weeks (Table). After adjusting for potential confounders, among patients who presented within 2 hours of onset there was no difference in the likelihood of receiving IV tPA within 3 hours (adjusted odds ratio 0.89, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.77 - 1.03, p=0.13), nor in the likelihood of receiving IV tPA within 60 minutes of arrival (adjusted odds ratio 0.92, 95% CI 0.83 - 1.02, p=0.13).
Conclusions: The treatment and outcome of patients who present with AIS to a GWTG-Stroke participating hospital are not degraded during the week of the International Stroke Conference.