Impact of Emergency Department Transitions of Care on Thrombolytic Use in Acute Ischemic Stroke
Background and Purpose—In-hospital mortality is higher for certain medical conditions based on the time of presentation to the emergency department. The primary goal of this study was to determine whether patients with acute ischemic stroke who arrived to the emergency department during a nursing shift change had similar rates of thrombolytic use and functional outcomes compared with patients presenting during nonshift change hours.
Methods—A retrospective review of patients with acute ischemic stroke presenting to the emergency department of a primary stroke center from 2005 through 2010. The time to notify the stroke team, perform a head CT scan, and to start intravenous or intra-arterial thrombolysis was assessed. Thrombolysis rates, mortality rate, discharge disposition, change in the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale, and change in modified Barthel Index at 3 and 12 months were assessed.
Results—Of 3133 patients with acute ischemic stroke, 917 met criteria for inclusion. Arrival during nursing shift change, weekends, and July through September had no impact on process times, thrombolysis rates, and functional outcomes. Arrival at night did result in longer time to intra-arterial but not to intravenous thrombolysis, higher mortality rate, and smaller gain in functional status as measured by the modified Barthel Index at 3 months. The degree of emergency department “busyness” also did not influence tissue-type plasminogen activator treatment times.
Conclusions—Presentation during a nursing shift change, a time of transition of care, did not delay thrombolytic use in eligible patients with acute ischemic stroke. Presentation with acute ischemic stroke at night did result in delays of care for patients undergoing interventional therapies.
- Received October 28, 2011.
- Revision received December 2, 2011.
- Accepted December 5, 2011.
- © 2012 American Heart Association, Inc.