Northwestern Memorial neurologist is lead author of comprehensive stroke center recommendations

Recommendations for establishing comprehensive stroke centers (CSC) to treat patients with complex types of stroke or cerebrovascular disease who require more specialized care and technological resources than are available at Primary Stroke Centers (PSC) will be published in an upcoming issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association and are currently available online. Developed by the Brain Attack Coalition (BAC), a group of professional, voluntary and governmental organizations committed to improving stroke care, the recommendations state that CSCs need stroke specialists, advanced imaging and surgical capabilities, and a specialized infrastructure.

Nearly five years ago, the BAC proposed two types of stroke centers: primary and comprehensive. Recommendations for PSCs, which have the necessary staffing, infrastructure and programs to stabilize and treat most acute patients, were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and efforts are now underway to credential these facilities.

"While PSCs provide stroke patients with high-quality care, we acknowledged that 30 to 35 percent of stroke patients with complex stroke types, severe deficits or multiple organs affected would benefit from an even higher level of specialized care, hence our recommendations for CSCs," explains Mark J. Alberts, MD, director of the Stroke Program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and the lead author on the guidelines for both PSCs and CSCs. "These recommendations for CSCs vs. PSCs approximate different levels of care and capabilities, which is akin to what different levels of trauma centers do."

"When our recommendations for PSCs were published, a survey showed that less than 34 percent of hospitals had appropriate stroke protocols in place and less than 18 percent had rapid identification for patients experiencing acute stroke," said Dr. Alberts. "Today, there are over 120 PSCs certified by the Joint Commission on Accreditation o

Contact: Patty Keiler
Northwestern Memorial Hospital

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