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An interventional study to improve paramedic diagnosis of stroke

journal contribution
posted on 2005-01-01, 00:00 authored by Janet Bray, J Martin, G Cooper, B Barger, S Bernard, C Bladin
Objective: The aim of the Faster Access to Stroke Therapy (FAST) study was to determine the effect of educational intervention andthe use of a prehospital stroke tool on the paramedic diagnosis of stroke.

Methods: Paramedics in emergency medical service units servicing a university teaching hospital were divided into two groups: FAST study paramedics (n = 18) and non-FAST study paramedics (n = 43). The FAST study paramedics received stroke education and instruction in the use of a prehospital stroke assessment tool [Melbourne Ambulance Stroke Screen (MASS)] to assist in stroke diagnosis. Based on final hospital diagnosis, the sensitivities of paramedic stroke diagnosis in the two groups were compared for a 12-month period before andafter the intervention.

Results: The sensitivity for the FAST study paramedics in identifying stroke improved from 78% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 63% to 88%) to 94% (95% CI: 86% to 98%) (p = 0.006) after receiving the stroke education session and with use of the MASS tool. There was no change in stroke diagnosis for the non-study paramedics 78% (95% CI: 71% to 84%) to 80% (95% CI: 72% to 87%) (p = 0.695). Prenotification of impending arrival to the emergency department was associated with higher-priority triage in the emergency department, and subsequent shorter times for door to medical review (15 min vs. 31 min, p < 0.001) and door to computed tomography (CT) scanning (94 min vs. 144 min, p < 0.001).

Conclusions: Targeted stroke education and the use of a simple clinical tool can significantly improve the diagnostic sensitivity of stroke by paramedics in the prehospital setting. Accurate diagnosis combined with prenotification of the pending arrival of stroke patients will allow for the focused and timely application of resources for the management of acute stroke.

History

Journal

Prehospital emergency care

Volume

9

Issue

3

Pagination

297 - 302

Publisher

Informa Healthcare

Location

London, England

ISSN

1090-3127

eISSN

1545-0066

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

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