Delays in door-to-needle time for acute ischemic stroke in the emergency department: A comprehensive stroke center experience

Ashkan Mowla, Jordan Doyle, Navdeep S Lail, Hamidreza Rajabzadeh-Oghaz, Christopher Deline, Peyman Shirani, Marilou Ching, Annemarie Crumlish, Deborah A Steck, David Janicke, Elad I Levy, Robert N Sawyer
Journal of the Neurological Sciences 2017 May 15, 376: 102-105

BACKGROUND: Current American Stroke Association guidelines recommend initiating intravenous thrombolysis (IVT) for acute ischemic stroke (AIS) within 60min of patient arrival, given the benefits of IVT for AIS are time dependent. This study aimed to identify the delaying factors in door-to-needle time (DTN) in the emergency department of one of the largest comprehensive stroke centers in New York State. We also recommended measures to reduce the delays.

METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed the medical charts of all AIS patients who received IVT in our emergency department patients between April 1, 2012 and December 31, 2015 to identify those with a DTN time of >60min. We categorized the factors causing the delay into different groups. For each group, we recommended measures to reduce the treatment delays.

RESULTS: A total of 487 patients received IVT for AIS during the 3.7-year period. Of these, 96 patients (20.4%) met our DTN time delay criteria. Delays for obtaining stroke imaging and hypertension control were the most common factors. Thirty eight patients (39.5%) had delay in obtaining CT-based stroke imaging. Twenty-two patients (22.9%) required control of elevated blood pressure prior to IVT. Other causes for delay in DTN time included delay in stroke triage and paging (11.4%), fluctuating neurological symptoms (7.2%), uncertainty about diagnosis (12.5%), delays associated with obtaining consent (9.3%), and uncertainty about the time of symptom onset (5.2%).

CONCLUSION: Important and common causes of delay in IVT for AIS were identified in a review of charts at our comprehensive stroke center. The authors recommend strategies to achieve faster DTN time for each of the delaying factor categories including faster acquisition and interpretation of stroke imaging, more effective triage protocols and faster blood pressure control for AIS patients who are eligible for IVT.

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