Survey Finds Increasing Popularity Of Acute Stroke Teams In U.S. Hospitals


Detailed surveys were mailed to 60 directors of major stroke programs and neurovascular experts in the United States; 45 were completed and returned. The results included:

  • Ninety-one percent of respondents had ASTs, with two-thirds of them being formed recently -- between 1995 and 1997.
  • Sixty-four percent of AST programs cost less than $10,000 per year to operate; 59 percent cost less than $5,000 annually.
  • In almost all programs, teams were lead by attending neurologists and/or neurosurgeons.
  • In 39 percent of cases, the teams received 2-3 calls per week; 29 percent of teams received more than five calls per week.
  • AST staffing consisted of attending physicians (95 percent), nurses or study coordinators (73 percent), fellows (49 percent) and residents (48 percent).
  • The large majority, 78 percent, were able to respond to calls within 10 minutes.

"We are very encouraged by the growth in the number of acute stroke teams," Alberts said. "However, the majority of teams tends to be in the nation's academic health centers. Since the majority of stroke patients usually come to community or rural hospitals first, one of our goals is to get the word out that they can benefit from having these teams."

One finding of the survey, which should appeal to smaller hospitals, is the cost, according to Alberts.

"With most programs costing less than $10,000 per year, it should not place a great financial burden on hospitals," Alberts said. "And while we don't have concrete data on the outcomes of patients treated by ASTs, those of us who treat them strongly suspect that patients are benefitting."

While the teams appear to be economical to operate in financial terms, the main commitment by a hospital is the time of its health care staff, Alberts said. Staffing patterns, as illustrated by the survey, should help administrators of c

Contact: Richard Merritt
Duke University Medical Center

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