DOI: 10.1161/str.55.suppl_1.wp38 ISSN: 0039-2499

Abstract WP38: Nurse-Driven Emergency Evaluation Improves Timely Acute Stroke Response

Madison Fowler, Heidi Hafen, Michelle D Aucoin, Stephen Chatwin, Paul Johnson
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Neurology (clinical)

Background: Stroke is associated with high rates of death and disability; prompt and effective interventions are imperative. Depending on emergency department (ED) physicians to initiate stroke codes may delay critical time targets, especially for patients arriving by private vehicle (POV). This study examines existing stroke care protocols in the ED of a Comprehensive Stroke Center and evaluates a new nurse-driven acute stroke response protocol.

Purpose: The primary goal of this initiative was to improve outcomes for patients arriving by POV, by reducing triage delays and accelerating time-sensitive acute stroke interventions.

Methods: This retrospective study implemented a nurse-led stroke activation process, in lieu of the conventional physician-led method. Nurses received comprehensive training in intervention goals and identification of stroke symptoms and last known-well times. The nurse-led model targeted patients presenting to the ED with a minimum of 2 stroke symptoms within 6 hours of symptom onset—an assessment tool, incorporating the FAST algorithm (Face, Arm, Speech, Time) and key National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) exam components, enhanced symptom specificity. Critical intervention times were evaluated for improvement.

Results: ED POV arrival patients with acute stroke symptoms were studied from 11/7/21-7/31/23; the nurse-driven process was implemented on 11/7/22. Pre-intervention review included 247 patients with 216 patients in the post-intervention review. Median door-to-activation times fell from 17 to 10 minutes, door-to-CT from 24 to 19 minutes, and door-to-needle times from 49 to 43.5 minutes. Median NIHSS scores in tPA-treated patients were compared pre- and post-intervention. In the physician-led group, initial median NIHSS scores were 6, reducing to 1 at discharge. The nurse-led group showed an initial median NIHSS score of 5, also reducing to 1 at discharge.

Conclusions: The nurse-driven method effectively shortened critical time metrics in the stroke code process, while maintaining optimal patient outcomes. A paradigm shift towards ED triage nurse-led stroke code activation for acute stroke may lead to higher quality acute stroke care.

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