COLUMBIA, Mo. — University Hospital is participating in Get With The Guidelines®, the premier hospital-based quality improvement program developed by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association.
According to the American Stroke Association, approximately 800,000 individuals in the United States suffer a stroke each year — more than 600,000 are first-time attacks. This deadly condition accounts for one out of every 18 deaths in the United States.
“Get With The Guidelines® is really a tool that helps hospitals by standardizing science-based treatment guidelines,” said Niranjan Singh, M.D., a neurologist at University Hospital. “These are the most up-to-date guidelines that address acute stroke management, primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases, secondary prevention of strokes and the establishment of primary stroke centers.”
Physicians and staff at University Hospital have incorporated these guidelines into the development of a comprehensive system for providing rapid diagnosis and treatment of stroke when patients are admitted to the emergency department. This system includes the ability on a constant basis to provide brain-imaging scans, making neurologists available to conduct patient evaluations and using clot-busting medications when appropriate.
“We are also interested in the prevention of secondary strokes through the aggressive use of medications such as statins and anti-platelets,” said Leigh Kite, R.N., M.S.N. CNL, stroke program coordinator at University Hospital. “Other methods include the treatment of atrial fibrillation and plaque build-up in the arteries, as well as the management of smoking cessation, weight, exercise, diabetes and cholesterol.”
University Hospital uses a multidisciplinary team from several different departments such as neurology, neurosurgery, physical therapy, cardiology and emergency services, just to name a few.
“In order to identify, diagnose and treat the stroke patient quickly, we work together as a cohesive team once the patient arrives at the hospital,” said Singh. “Rapid evaluation and treatment then make the difference, not only between life and death, but also in terms of quality of life.”
Each stroke is unique, but they do produce common physical, behavioral and communication affects that can be lifelong issues.
“The severity of these affects can be directly attributed to the speed with which we diagnose and treat the patient,” said Kite. “Balance, muscular function, speech, and personality can all be affected. These changes not only affect the patient, but also their loved ones. So using standardized practices, not only at our facility but in facilities nationwide, is going to make a big difference in a positive way as to outcomes.”