Physicians Recommend Network of Specialized Hospitals To Treat Stroke Patients
A nationwide system of high-level hospitals that specialize in stroke care would reduce the rates of mortality and disability among patients who experience severe strokes, according to recommendations by several physicians that will appear in the journal Stroke, the Wall Street Journal reports. In the recommendations, a group of physicians called the Brain Attack Coalition -- led by Mark Alberts, director of the stroke program at Northwestern University Medical School -- write that the hospitals in the system would serve as either "comprehensive" or "primary" facilities that specialize in stroke care.
Comprehensive hospitals could provide neurological and neurosurgical care at all times and would have surgeons who can treat blockages of arteries to the brain. In addition, comprehensive hospitals would have "interventional endovascular neuroradiologists" who treat brain hemorrhages with catheters, a less-invasive technique than surgery, and could treat "vasospasms," a reaction in the brain that can occur a few days after hemorrhages.
Primary hospitals would provide the same quality of care as comprehensive facilities but would treat patients who experience less-severe strokes. Comprehensive hospitals would treat patients who experience the "worst type of stroke with the highest level of morbidity and mortality," Alberts said, adding, "We envision a network of comprehensive stroke centers, just as there is a network of trauma centers."
The system would require many hospitals to purchase new equipment and increase staff levels. According to the recommendations, ambulances would take stroke patients to hospitals in the system as early as possible. Currently, many cities require ambulances to take patients to the nearest hospital, regardless of specialization (Burton, Wall Street Journal, 6/17).