JOURNAL ARTICLE

Interrupted transport by the emergency medical service in stroke/transitory ischemic attack: A consequence of changed treatment routines in prehospital emergency care

Linda Alsholm, Christer Axelsson, Magnus Andersson Hagiwara, My Niva, Lisa Claesson, Johan Herlitz, Carl Magnusson, Lars Rosengren, Katarina Jood
Brain and Behavior 2019, 9 (5): e01266
30980519

BACKGROUND: The discovery that not all patients who call for the emergency medical service (EMS) require transport to hospital has changed the structure of prehospital emergency care. Today, the EMS clinician at the scene already distinguishes patients with a time-critical condition such as stroke/transitory ischemic attack (TIA) from patients without. This highlights the importance of the early identification of stroke/TIA.

AIM: To describe patients with a final diagnosis of stroke/TIA whose transport to hospital was interrupted either due to a lack of suspicion of the disease by the EMS crew or due to refusal by the patient or a relative/friend.

METHODS: Data were obtained from a register in Gothenburg, covering patients hospitalised due to a final diagnosis of stroke/TIA. The inclusion criterion was that patients were assessed by the EMS but were not directly transported to hospital by the EMS.

RESULTS: Among all the patients who were assessed by the EMS nurse and subsequently diagnosed with stroke or TIA in 2015, the transport of 34 of 1,310 patients (2.6%) was interrupted. Twenty-five of these patients, of whom 20 had a stroke and five had a TIA, are described in terms of initial symptoms and outcome. The majority had residual symptoms at discharge from hospital. Initial symptoms were vertigo/disturbed balance in 11 of 25 cases. Another three had symptoms perceived as a change in personality and three had a headache.

CONCLUSION: From this pilot study, we hypothesise that a fraction of patients with stroke/TIA who call for the EMS have their direct transport to hospital interrupted due to a lack of suspicion of the disease by the EMS nurse at the scene. These patients appear to have more vague symptoms including vertigo and disturbed balance. Instruments to identify these patients at the scene are warranted.

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