Members of the Niagara Health System stroke team will present at a national conference Oct. 3 on a patient care initiative that has dramatically reduced the time it takes for patients in Niagara who may be experiencing a stroke to receive a clot-busting drug that could save their lives.
The benchmark door-to-needle time in Ontario – the time patients enter the hospital to the time they receive the thrombolytic drug t-PA (tissue plasminogen activator) – is 60 minutes. The average time in Niagara last year was 38 minutes, which is significantly less than other stroke centres in Ontario, due in large part to the increased leadership of our Emergency Department nurses who are specially trained in stroke care.
“Time is brain for people experiencing a stroke, and the faster patients are treated, the better the outcomes for our patients,” says Leanne Hammond, Coordinator of the NHS’s Niagara District Stroke Centre. “We are extremely pleased with the positive results of our efforts to reduce the door-to-needle time. We expect to see an improvement in patient outcomes this year, and we will continue to examine these outcomes in order to enhance the care we provide.”
Since the nursing-based model was introduced in Niagara, nurses at the Greater Niagara General Site who are part of the specially trained ED stroke team have collaborated more closely with stroke neurologists, ED physicians and Telestroke partners to ensure patients receive the best possible stroke care.
The stroke team will be presenting at the Canadian Stroke Congress, an annual meeting for stroke care providers from across the country. The NHS presentation is being billed by conference organizers as one of the top 10 not to miss.
About stroke care in Niagara
The NHS’s Niagara District Stroke Centre is the regional centre for stroke care. It is located at the Greater Niagara General Site (GNG) in Niagara Falls, where a specially trained ED stroke team provides treatment to patients from across the region. This includes assessment and administration of t-PA in appropriate cases.
GNG is also the site of a new 10-bed acute care stroke unit for patients from across the region who are recovering from acute stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack).
In Ontario, stroke is the third leading cause of death and disability. However, research indicates that only 54 per cent of people call 9-1-1 for immediate care. Failing to recognize the warning signs of a stroke delays life-saving medical care provided at designated stroke centres like the one at the GNG Site.
Stroke symptoms usually appear suddenly and include loss of strength or numbness in the face, arm or leg, difficulty speaking, vision problems, severe and unusual headache and loss of balance.