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Emory hospitals awarded for quality achievements in stroke care

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Janet Christenbury

Four Emory Healthcare hospitals and one Emory-affiliated hospital have received top honors for excellence in the treatment and care of stroke patients.

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) awarded Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Emory Johns Creek Hospital and Southern Regional Medical Center with the “Get with the Guidelines-Stroke” Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. Hospitals receiving this award have reached a goal of treating stroke patients with 85 percent or higher adherence to all “Get with the Guidelines-Stroke” achievement indicators for two or more consecutive 12-month periods. They must also have achieved 75 percent or higher compliance with five of eight of the program’s quality measures.

Emory University Hospital (EUH) was also recognized in the “Target: Stroke Honor Roll-Elite Plus” category, a new recognition level this year, for meeting quality measures to reduce the time between the patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment with the clot-buster drug, tPA. tPA is the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ischemic stroke. If given intravenously in the first three hours after the start of stroke symptoms, tPA has been shown to significantly reduce the effects of stroke and lessen the chance of permanent disability.

Over a 12-month period, at least 75 percent of EUH’s ischemic stroke patients received tPA within 60 minutes of arriving (known as door-to-needle time), and at least 50 percent of patients received tPA within 45 minutes of arrival, both of which earned the hospital the “Elite Plus” status.

“In fact, 97 percent of our IV tPA patients were treated within 60 minutes of arrival at Emory University Hospital,” says Fadi Nahab, MD, medical director of the stroke program at Emory University Hospital and Emory University Hospital Midtown, and associate professor in the departments of neurology and pediatrics. “Just 73 of 2482 hospitals nationally, which is less than three percent, received the Target: Stroke Honor Roll-Elite Plus award.”

Southern Regional Medical Center was recognized in the “Target: Stroke Honor Roll-Elite” category, also a new recognition level this year. Seventy-five percent or more of ischemic stroke patients at Southern Regional were treated with tPA within 60 minutes of arrival to the hospital. Experts at Southern Regional report that actually 95.2 percent of acute ischemic stroke patients were treated with IV tPA in under 60 minutes from arrival, and the median door to needle time was 50 minutes.

Both Emory University Hospital Midtown and Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital were recognized on the “Target: Stroke Honor Roll,” meaning 50 percent of ischemic stroke patients at these hospitals received tPA within 60 minutes of arriving.

“These awards signify a joint effort among all of our hospitals to provide not only timely stroke care, but quality stroke care for our patients and their families,” says Babs Hargett, RN, corporate director for the Office of Quality for Emory Healthcare. “Our faculty and staff are committed to this national quality improvement initiative launched by the AHA/ASA and aimed at improving ischemic stroke care and the outcomes of these patients.”

With a stroke, time lost is brain lost. The AHA/ASA’s “Get with the Guidelines-Stroke” program is based on nationally respected clinical guidelines for hospitals to follow and succeed, while improving quality, reducing the length of stay and lowering readmission rates for stroke patients.

“We are honored that our collective stroke program was highly recognized at the 2015 International Stroke Conference in Nashville recently,” says Nahab. “Our patients deserve this level of care and treatment, which boosts our quality-improvement measures and ultimately, helps save lives.”

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the number four cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the U.S. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds; someone dies of a stroke every four minutes and 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.

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