Delay in referral of patients with ruptured aneurysms to neurosurgical attention.
Aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage is a neurosurgical emergency. Early medical intervention is axiomatic for minimizing rebleeding and ischemia from vasospasm and achieving optimum results. The purpose of this study was to document the length and causes of the delay in referral which occur in patients following aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. The case histories of 150 consecutive patients admitted to The University of Iowa with proven ruptured aneurysms were studied. Medical records from The University of Iowa and referring hospitals were reviewed, and patients, families, and referring physicians interviewed. Overall, only 36% were referred within 48 hours of their first clear cut, recognizable sign or symptom of subarachnoid hemorrhage. Median time to referral was 3.6 days. Delay was due to physician diagnostic problems in 37%, delayed referral policy in 23%, unstable patient condition in 7%, failure of patients to recognize severity of illness in 8%, and logistical reasons in 12%. These data suggest that a large proportion of patients have a delay in achieving definitive neurosurgical care following aneurysm rupture, and that for the most part this delay is avoidable. More emphasis must be placed on public health and primary physician education regarding subarachnoid hemorrhage.
- Copyright © 1985 by American Heart Association