How Healthcare Providers Can Observe American Stroke Month
In honor of the month of May’s designation as American Stroke Month, the American Stroke Association (ASA) is encouraging health care providers and hospitals to focus on the latest developments on the second-leading cause of death in the world. Strokes kill about 133,000 Americans every year and are a leading cause of adult disability, occurring in the U.S. about once every 40 seconds.
While most health professionals are familiar with current stroke best practices and symptoms, there are a few practical steps you can take to improve your facility’s stroke assessment, treatment and education, including:
1. Read up on Thrombectomies. New research has lead to ASA guidelines recommending that more people should be considered to undergo a mechanical thrombectomy, where blood clots are removed using a device threaded through the blood vessel. Research shows that some patients may now benefit from mechanical clot removal up to 24 hours after symptoms begin, as opposed to the previous six-hour limit. Up to 20 percent of all ischemic stroke patients are currently considered eligible for clot removal, but that number is expected to grow with further research.
2. Host a Stroke Simulator Event. Sometimes referred to as mock codes or drills, a simulator event allows hospitals to train and evaluate their protocols for a variety of medical emergencies. To help hospitals and emergency response systems conduct a stroke simulation, the AHA/ASA has developed free tools, including a helpful how-to guide. (PDF). The event is also an opportunity to promote advocacy and awareness within your local community by interacting with media, the public, and local lawmakers.
3. Improve Your Stroke Assessment Practices. Did you know that more than 50% of stroke victims do not receive a full pre-hospital screen? This is partly due to the prevailing belief that with acute stroke, the faster the treatment, the better the outcomes; as soon as a patient met the first positive credential for stroke, he or she was rushed to treatment. However, new research is suggesting that more thorough assessments may actually change the course of treatment – with the suggestion that more might benefit from a thrombectomy – as well as affecting the optimal window for treatment time. Watch this free webcast examining the history of stroke assessment and the new metrics that suggest a major shift is on the horizon.
Additionally, new industry-wide technologies, like improved patient record software, are helping first responders and hospital staff become more efficient in recording and sharing important stroke-related credentials, increasing the chance for a more accurate diagnosis and treatment. For example, Electronic Health Record (EHR) software from ESO Solutions includes stroke-specific specialty forms that can be tailored to an organization’s assessment protocols, and later shared easily with hospital staff. These forms help ensure all the pertinent questions are answered and easily accessible by all care providers throughout the treatment spectrum.
4. Participate in the National Stroke Registry. A division of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Program provides funding and support to state health departments to track and measure acute stroke care and improve the quality of care, helping a reported 620,000 Americans in the last decade. If your facility is located in one of the 9 states currently funded by the program, your participation can help share data and best practices, reduced door-to-intervention and treatment times, and improve collaboration between hospitals, EMS agencies, and outpatient providers. If you are not in a participating state, you can still benefit from the program’s Strategies from the Field document (PDF).
5. Continue to Activate Your Community. A key component of effectively treating the number is strokes in the U.S. is ensuring your patients are aware of stroke symptoms – such as the F.A.S.T. warning signs – and helping them understand how monitoring and controlling blood pressure is also an important component in stroke prevention and overall health. The ASM offers a collection of resources you can share with your patients, including a family history tree (PDF) they can complete for numerous diseases.