Stroke Medication Used Infrequently by Hospitals in Santa Clara County, Nationwide
Most Santa Clara County hospitals administer a "potent" stroke medication approved by the FDA six years ago "just a handful of times a year," a San Jose Mercury News investigation has found. Tissue plasminogen activator, known as tPA, breaks up the blood clots that cause stroke and can help up to half of those who have a stroke. The investigation found that San Jose Medical Center, O'Connor Hospital in San Jose, Saint Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy and Regional Medical Center in San Jose each administered tPA fewer than six times in the last two years. Stanford Stroke Center has used tPA most often, administering it 40 times over two years; Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose and Kaiser-Santa Clara Hospital also have "relatively high" rates of tPA usage.
Many hospitals are unprepared to "respond quickly enough" to people who have had a stroke, the Mercury News reports. To be effective, tPA must be administered within three hours of the onset of symptoms. Some hospitals are hesitant to administer tPA because of its "potential for serious side effects," including bleeding in the brain, the Mercury News reports. The drug is not widely used nationwide, as fewer than 2% of the 637,000 Americans whose strokes are attributable to blocked blood vessels each year receive the drug. To alleviate the problem, San Jose City Council member Pat Dando is working to establish a not-for-profit organization that will attempt to improve stroke care in the Silicon Valley (Lyons, San Jose Mercury News, 4/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.