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Stroke patients receive better care when hospitals 'get with the guidelines'

NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 2 The care of stroke patients improved dramatically over a short time when hospitals implemented "Get With The Guidelines StrokeSM" (GWTGStroke), an American Stroke Association hospital quality improvement program, according to two studies presented today at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2005.

The American Stroke Assocation's GWTGStroke is an in-hospital acute stroke treatment and ischemic stroke prevention program. It focuses on providing an infrastructure for better care to ensure that patients are treated and discharged appropriately.

"We and others have found that missed opportunities to provide preventive stroke care reflect a systems problem, not an expertise problem," said Lee H. Schwamm, M.D., co-investigator of the GWTG-Stroke pilot and an author of both studies.

"Get With The Guidelines is like a pre-flight check list. A person wouldn't want to get on an airplane that didn't have systems to help the crew make sure the plane is ready for take-off. Similarly, Get With The Guidelines provides a kind of check list to review while patients are being treated, and especially before they are discharged from the hospital," he said.

GWTGStroke uses inter-hospital collaborative meetings, best-practice sharing and an Internet tool for data collection, reporting and decision support.

"When people operate in isolation, they are not as effective as when they interact in groups," said Schwamm, an associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and associate director of Acute Stroke Services at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. "This collaborative model brings people together -- colleagues and competitors alike -- who are interested in improving stroke care quality."

Both studies analyzed stroke treatment in the same group of 21,563 ischemic stroke patients at 99 participating hospitals.

One study, which was led by Kenneth A. LaBresh, M.D., vice
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Contact: Carole Bullock
carole.bullock@heart.org
214-706-1279
American Heart Association
2-Feb-2005


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