Impact of Primary Stroke Center Certification on Location of Acute Ischemic Stroke Care in Georgia
Background and Purpose—Primary stroke centers (PSCs) are associated with greater rates of tissue plasminogen activator use and improved outcomes. The American Stroke Association has advocated for the preferential transport of stroke patients to PSCs. We investigated the impact of PSC certification on hospital stroke discharge patterns in Georgia communities with a choice between PSC and non-PSC.
Methods—We analyzed data from the Georgia Discharge Data System before (2004) and after stroke certification (2009). Only Metropolitan Statistical Areas containing ≥1 PSC and ≥1 non-PSC were included in the analysis. We calculated the odds of acute stroke discharge from a PSC in 2009 compared with 2004.
Results—In Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Areas with at least 1 PSC and 1 non-PSC hospital, the percent of patients discharged from a subsequently designated PSC increased from 50.2% to 56.6% between 2004 and 2009 (OR, 1.29; P<0.0001). In 4 Metropolitan Statistical Areas, the proportion of stroke discharges from PSCs increased, whereas in 2 Metropolitan Statistical Areas, there was no significant increase, and in 1, there was a trend toward less stroke discharges from PSCs.
Conclusions—Although there has been an overall increase in stroke discharges from PSCs, the impact of stroke certification on patient destination was small and inconsistent across the state suggesting that local factors influence the location of hospitalization.
- Received December 16, 2011.
- Revision received January 3, 2012.
- Accepted January 4, 2012.
- © 2012 American Heart Association, Inc.