2004-05-13 / Medical

Stroke Association Developing Programs To Help Hospitals

Stroke Association Developing Programs To Help Hospitals

As a hospital healthcare professional, you like to think that all the bases are covered - that you provide quality care for stroke patients. But, if you were the stroke patient, would you want to be treated at your hospital?

The American Stroke Association recognizes that many hospitals are not adequately staffed, trained and/or equipped to handle stroke emergencies. That’s a critical problem, because stroke is the No. 3 killer in America and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability.

The association’s response was to develop programs to help hospitals improve stroke treatment: the Acute Stroke Treatment Program, Get With The Guidelines-Stroke, and Primary Stroke Center Cer-tification.

The first program, the Acute Stroke Treatment Program (ASTP), is a step-by-step tool kit that helps hospitals and healthcare professionals build the infrastructure to meet all 12 treatment and management requirements identified by the Brain Attack Coalition for primary stroke centers. As part of the ASTP process, the American Stroke Association is hosting workshops around the country that help neurologists and others implement the program in their hospital.

Complementing the ASTP program, Get With The Guidelines-Stroke (GWTG-Stroke) program provides tools and processes to help healthcare professionals and hospitals increase adherence to nationally ac-cepted recommendations and guidelines for managing all phases of stroke, from acute stroke care through secondary prevention at discharge. Currently in pilot and launching full-scale in May 2004, GWTG-Stroke works by identifying individuals, or champions, to lead, develop and mobilize teams that implement treat-ment and discharge protocols for stroke patients. The quality improvement measures include a Web-based tool that generates reports to improve stroke care in hospitals and creates customized patient education materials about stroke risk and prevention.

To evaluate the quality of stroke care provided by hospitals, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, in collaboration with the American Stroke Association, developed Primary Stroke Center Certification, the first nationwide certification program to evaluate stroke care provided by hospitals. As part of the advanced DiseaseSpe-cific Care Certification Program, JCAHO’s certification program offers the "gold seal of approval" to hospitals that demonstrate compliance with consensus-based national standards, effective use of primary stroke center recommendations and clinical practice guidelines to manage and optimize care, and performance measurement and improvement activities.

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"Together, these programs provide the critical elements necessary to measure and improve care for patients with stroke," said Lee H. Schwamm, M.D., associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and a leader of the American Stroke Association’s GWTG-Stroke program. "It’ss been exciting to witnesss the collaboration among the American Stroke Association, JCAHO and the Brain Attack Coalition, watching concepts transform into specific recommendations and implementation models so rapidly to improve stroke care".

To learn more about the Acute Storke Treatment Program, Get With The Guidelines-Stroke or the Primary Stroke Center Certification pragram , visit www.strokeassociation.org or call 1-888-4-STROKE.

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