Emergency Medicine Service (EMS) providers play a pivotal role in early identification and initiation of treatment for stroke. The objective of this study is to characterize nationwide EMS practices for suspected stroke and assess for gender-based differences in compliance with American Stroke Association (ASA) guidelines.
Using the 2019-2020 National Emergency Medical Services Information System (NEMSIS) Datasets, we identified encounters with an EMS designated primary impression of stroke. We characterized patient characteristics and EMS practices and assessed compliance with eight metrics for “guideline-concordant” care. Multivariable logistic regression modeled the association between gender and the primary outcome (guideline-concordant care), adjusted for age, EMS level of service, EMS geographical region, region type (i.e. urban or rural), and year.
Of 693,177 encounters with a primary impression of stroke, overall compliance with each performance metric ranged from 18% (providing supplemental oxygen when the pulse oximetry is less than 94%) to 76% (less than 90sec from incoming call to EMS dispatch). 2,382 (0.39%) encounters were fully guideline-concordant. Women were significantly less likely than men to receive guideline-concordant care (adjusted OR 0.82, 95% CI 0.75-0.89; 0.36% women, 0.43% men with guideline-concordant care).
A minority of patients received prehospital stroke care that was documented to be compliant with ASA guidelines. Women were less likely to receive fully guideline-compliant care compared to men, after controlling for confounders, although the difference was small and of uncertain climical importance. Further studies are needed to evaluate the underlying reasons for this disparity, its impact on patient outcomes, and to identify potential targeted interventions to improve prehospital stroke care.

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