Educating Paramedics on the Finger-to-Nose Test Improves Recognition of Posterior Stroke

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Background and Purpose—Emergency medical services (EMS) stroke recognition facilitates rapid care, however, prehospital stroke screening tools rely on signs that are often absent in posterior circulation strokes. We hypothesized that addition of the finger-to-nose (FTN) test to the Cincinnati Prehospital Stroke Scale would improve EMS posterior stroke recognition.Methods—In this controlled before and after study of consecutive EMS transported posterior ischemic strokes, paramedics in a single EMS agency received in-person training in the use of the FTN test. Paramedics at 2 other local EMS agencies served as controls. We compared the change in posterior stroke recognition, door-to-CT times, and alteplase delivery between the FTN (intervention) and control agencies.Results—Over 21 months, 51 posterior circulation strokes were transported by the FTN agency and 88 in the control agencies. Following training, posterior stroke recognition improved from 46% to 74% (P=0.039) in the FTN agency, whereas there was no change in the control agencies (32% before versus 39% after, P=0.467). Mean door-to-CT time in the FTN agency also improved following training (62–41 minutes, P=0.037) but not in the control agencies (58–61 minutes, P=0.771). There was no difference in alteplase delivery.Conclusions—Paramedics trained in the FTN test were more likely to identify posterior stroke. If future studies confirm these findings, such training may expedite the care of posterior stroke patients transported by EMS.

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