Establishing a Stroke Response Team in a Rural Setting


Stroke, a substantial public health problem because of high incidence, prevalence, mortality and economic burden, is the leading cause of long-term disability and the third leading cause of death in the United States (National Institute of Health, 2005). Improvements have been made in the management of ischemic stroke, including the use of a fibrinolytic agent known as tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), and the utilization of stroke response teams. While larger hospitals have the capabilities of instituting improvements, rural hospitals still lack the resources and ability to offer this vital service. The organization of a stroke response team can vary depending on location. However, all such teams can facilitate rapid evaluation and treatment of patients with stroke, thus allowing hospital systems to respond in organized, efficient, and emergent ways. Such rapid responses prevent extensive disability: “time is brain.” This manuscript discusses the effectiveness of a stroke response team on tPA utilization and offers an algorithm for rural hospitals to follow.

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