Hospital guidelines could improve patient outcomes

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AUSTIN (American Heart Association)  — The American Heart Association’s Get with The Guidelines program — and hospitals that follow them — can help improve patient outcomes.

In Austin, both Seton and St. David’s network follow these guidelines. And why would knowing what hospital has them help you make more informed choices as a patient?

Below are the “Tale of Two Strokes” scenarios. Either of these scenarios could occur in the greater Austin area. E.g. Jane could work in Austin and live in the western portion of Travis County. Maria could live in Round Rock.

Scenario – A tale of two strokes 

Patient did NOT receive guideline-based care:

Jane was a 60-year-old university professor at a small college. She arrived to a regional hospital (that was not participating in GWTG-Stroke) by private vehicle with her son.  They got to the hospital as quickly as they could but by the time they arrived from her home outside of town, Jane’s stroke symptoms were worsening. She sat in the emergency department (ED) at the hospital until she could be seen by an ED physician. By the time they realized she was having a stroke, it was too late to administer clot busting medication to dissolve the clot in Jane’s brain. Eventually, Jane was discharged to a rehabilitation facility where she spent two months trying to recover. Her speech remained impaired, she was emotional, crying, and often confused; her mobility was limited and she could not go back to work as a professor. Jane never returned to work and continues to struggle physically and emotionally in the aftermath of her stroke.

Patient DID receive guideline-based care:

Maria was a 61-year-old finance manager in a small city. When she noticed that her speech was slurring, her face drooping and her arm limp, she signaled for her husband to call 911. She was picked up by an ambulance at her home, was quickly assessed for stroke and taken to a primary stroke center within 48 minutes of symptom onset. Because a stroke alert was called before she even arrived at the hospital, Maria was given a CT scan and administered clot busting medication within 27 minutes of arrival. Her clot was cleared and she quickly resumed normal functioning. Maria was discharged home and returned to work at the bank within three weeks.

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