Background: Although the American Heart Association has placed particular emphasis on the importance of improving door-to-imaging (DTI) and door-to-needle (DTN) times, treatment with intravenous tissue Plasminogen Activator (IV tPA) remains nationally low in Acute Ischemic Stroke (AIS) patients, especially for community hospitals due to a lack of in-house neurovascular physician coverage. We sought to remedy this problem by implementing round-the-clock coverage of the Emergency Department by Stroke-trained nurses for patients presenting with AIS who may be appropriate to receive IV tPA.
Methods: AIS patients treated with IV tPA at a Community Hospital and Primary Stroke Center in St. Louis, Missouri were studied between 2013 and 2016. A 24/7 Rapid Response Team of nurses was trained as specialized stroke responders for which the DTI time, DTN time, and IV tPA utilization rates were then compared between pre-implementation (12 months) and post-implementation (30 months).
Results: We studied 189 Stroke Code patients who were treated with IV tPA (40 pre-implementation and 149 post). The median DTI time was reduced from 16 minutes (interquartile range [IQR]10-21) to 11 minutes (IQR 6-12) (P < .05), and the median DTN time was reduced from 64 minutes (IQR 44-79) to 51 minutes (IQR 39-65) (P<.05). Compliance within the 60-minute benchmark DTN time improved from 55% (27 of 44 patients) to 76.1% (113 of 149 patients) treated in less than 60 minutes with 53.5% (80 of 149 patients) being treated in less than 45 minutes (P<.05). The tPA treatment rates also increased pre and post-implementation by 77.5% (40 to 71 patients) (P<.05) while IV tPA complication rates decreased from 7.3% to 2.7% (P<.10).
Conclusions: Implementation of round-the-clock on-site stroke nurse coverage for Acute Stroke Code significantly reduced the DTI and DTN time while increasing treatment rates and decreasing complications amongst patients with AIS treated with IV tPA.