Evaluation of Rural Stroke Services
Does Implementation of Coordinators and Pathways Improve Care in Rural Hospitals?
Background and Purpose—The quality of hospital care for stroke varies, particularly in rural areas. In 2007, funding to improve stroke care became available as part of the Rural Stroke Project (RSP) in New South Wales (Australia). The RSP included the employment of clinical coordinators to establish stroke units or pathways and protocols, and more clinical staff. We aimed to describe the effectiveness of RSP in improving stroke care and patient outcomes.
Methods—A historical control cohort design was used. Clinical practice and outcomes at 8 hospitals were compared using 2 medical record reviews of 100 consecutive ischemic or intracerebral hemorrhage patients ≥12 months before RSP and 3 to 6 months after RSP was implemented. Descriptive statistics and multivariable analyses of patient outcomes are presented.
Results—Sample: pre-RSP n=750; mean age 74 (SD, 13) years; women 50% and post-RSP n=730; mean age 74 (SD, 13) years; women 46%. Many improvements in stroke care were found after RSP: access to stroke units (pre 0%; post 58%, P<0.001); use of aspirin within 24 hours of ischemic stroke (pre 59%; post 71%, P<0.001); use of care plans (pre 15%; post 63%, P<0.001); and allied health assessments within 48 hours (pre 65%; post 82% P<0.001). After implementation of the RSP, patients directly admitted to an RSP hospital were 89% more likely to be discharged home (adjusted odds ratio, 1.89; 95% confidence interval, 1.34–2.66).
Conclusions—Investment in clinical coordinators who implemented organizational change, together with increased clinician resources, effectively improved stroke care in rural hospitals, resulting in more patients being discharged home.
- Received February 24, 2013.
- Accepted June 21, 2013.
- © 2013 American Heart Association, Inc.