Impact of Emergency Medical Services Stroke Routing Protocols on Primary Stroke Center Certification in California
Background and Purpose—Organized stroke systems of care include Primary Stroke Center (PSC) certification and preferential emergency medical services (EMS) routing of suspected patients with stroke to designated PSCs. Stroke EMS routing is not nationally governed; in California, routing is determined by county. EMS routing policies might provide an incentive for PSC accreditation. We evaluated the relationship between independent adoption of EMS routing protocols and PSC designation acquisition in California.
Methods—Dates of PSC certification were obtained through The Joint Commissions Website and confirmatory calls to stroke coordinators. Starting date of county EMS PSC routing policies was obtained from county EMS agencies. We provide descriptive analysis of number of hospitals achieving PSC designation relative to implementation of EMS routing policies for all counties with PSCs.
Results—By June 2012, there were 131 California PSCs in 27 counties, and 22 of 58 counties had implemented EMS routing policies. The greatest number of PSCs was in Los Angeles (30) followed by San Diego (11), Orange (9), and Santa Clara (9) counties. Achievement of PSC designation occurred more frequently immediately before and after EMS routing: 51 PSCs (39%) within 1 year; 85 PSCs (65%) within 2 years. The yearly rate of eligible hospital conversion to PSC designation accelerated concurrent with EMS diversion policy adoption from 3.8% before to 16.2% during and decelerated afterward to 7.6%.
Conclusions—Implementation of EMS routing policies may be an important factor driving PSC certification. National adoption of stroke routing policies may lead to more PSCs, positively impacting patient care.
- Received February 25, 2013.
- Accepted August 27, 2013.
- © 2013 American Heart Association, Inc.