A higher standard of stroke care
American Stroke Association recognizes medical center for treatment standards
UC Davis Medical Center has received the American Stroke Association's Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Bronze Performance Achievement Award. The award recognizes the medical center's commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of stroke care by ensuring that stroke patients receive treatment according to nationally accepted standards and recommendations.
"With a stroke, time lost is brain lost, and the Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Bronze Performance Achievement Award addresses the important element of time," said Piero Verro, UC Davis associate professor of neurology and director of the UC Davis Stroke Program.
According to the American Stroke Association, each year approximately 795,000 people suffer a stroke — 610,000 are first attacks and 185,000 are recurrent. Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States is suffering from a stroke. This deadly condition accounts for 1 out of every 18 deaths in the United States.
The number of acute ischemic stroke patients eligible for treatment is also expected to grow over the next decade due to increasing stroke incidence and a large aging population, Verro said.
UC Davis Medical Center has developed a comprehensive system for rapid diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients admitted to the emergency department. This includes always being equipped to provide brain imaging scans, having neurologists available to conduct patient evaluations and using clot-busting medications when appropriate.
Critical step in saving lives
"The full implementation of acute care and secondary prevention recommendations and guidelines is a critical step in saving the lives and improving outcomes of stroke patients."
— Lee H. Schwamm, American Stroke Association steering committee
To receive the Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Bronze Performance Achievement Award, the medical center consistently followed the treatment guidelines in the Get With The Guidelines-Stroke program for 90 days. These include aggressive use of medications like tPA, antithrombotics, anticoagulation therapy, DVT prophylaxis, cholesterol reducing drugs, and smoking cessation.
The 90-day evaluation period is the first in an ongoing self-evaluation by the hospital to continually reach the 85-percent compliance level needed to sustain the award. The medical center intends to continue following the guidelines and eventually earn the stroke association’s silver and gold awards for ongoing compliance, Verro said.
"The American Stroke Association commends UC Davis Medical Center for its success in implementing standards of care and protocols," said Lee H. Schwamm, Vice-Chair of the national Get With the Guidelines Steering Committee and Vice-Chair of the Neurology department and director of acute stroke services at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. "The full implementation of acute care and secondary prevention recommendations and guidelines is a critical step in saving the lives and improving outcomes of stroke patients."
Credit for the development of the medical center’s system for diagnosing and treating stroke patients admitted through the emergency department belongs to the staff of the ED and the stroke unit, Verro said.
"It was the right thing to do," said said Pat Zrelak, the administrative nurse for the medical center's stroke program who helped coordinate the effort. "Stroke is the third leading cause of the death in the U.S. and the leading cause of disability. Four out of 5 families will be impacted by stroke."
Reducing risk of future strokes
Get With The Guidelines-Stroke uses the "teachable moment," the time soon after a patient has had a stroke, when they are most likely to listen to and follow their healthcare professionals' guidance. Studies demonstrate that patients who are taught how to manage their risk factors while still in the hospital reduce their risk of a second stroke.
Through Get With The Guidelines-Stroke, customized patient-education materials are made available at the point of discharge, based on patients' individual risk profiles. The take-away materials are written in an easy-to-understand format and are available in English and Spanish. In addition, the Get With The Guidelines Patient Management Tool provides access to up-to-date cardiovascular and stroke science at the point of care.