A Jefferson study examining the impact of a “telestroke” network of 28 Philadelphia-area community hospitals, finds a significant increase in the use of clot-busting medication for stroke patients.
That’s good news, since minutes can make a difference in the outcomes of those having a stroke, and the clot-busting drug tPA – or tissue plasminogen activator – must be given within just a few hours of the onset of a stroke.
Jefferson neurosurgeon Stavropoula Tjoumakaris, MD, and colleagues at Jefferson Hospital for Neuroscience examined data on patients treated at network hospitals during an 18-month period. The results of that analysis were recently published in Neurosurgery, the medical journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.
The physician-researchers reported some 80 percent of network hospitals increased their use of tPA for acute ischemic stroke. In addition, the percentage of patients transferred from community hospitals to specialized stroke centers decreased – possibly because patients began to improve at their original hospital.
“Implementing a telestroke system facilitates high rates of intravenous thrombolysis in patients who have had a stroke in community hospitals within a relatively short time frame,” the Jefferson team reported. “These results are higher than the national average rate and support the implementation of telestroke networks for wider access to stroke expertise in underserved regions.”
Overall, 97 percent of those patients at the network hospitals who were eligible for tPA during the 18-month study period from January 2011 and June 2012 got the medication, markedly more than the national rate.
The Jefferson Neuroscience Network
Because time is of the essence in diagnosing and treating many neurovascular diseases, including arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), brain aneurysms and especially stroke, Jefferson established the Jefferson Neuroscience Network.
The Network links patients and doctors at regional hospitals with Jefferson specialists who have the expertise to diagnose time sensitive neurological disorders and who have helped to develop some of today’s leading minimally-invasive procedures for treating brain tumors, brain aneurysms, AVMs and strokes.
The Network “was established to place all of our resources, among them, vascular neurologists, dual-trained neurosurgeons, advanced technology, leading clinical trials, and community education on neuroscience issues, at the disposal of patients, their families and physicians of hospitals participating in the network,” said Robert H. Rosenwasser, MD, chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery at Jefferson.
Network hospitals, regardless of location, have access to the resources of Jefferson’s comprehensive stroke center, and can tap into the expertise of experienced neurologists and neurosurgeons in the immediate treatment of patients with neurovascular disease.
In situations where every minute can be of critical importance, ensuring timely access to the right doctors can make a life-long difference. That’s the Jefferson difference.