Public Awareness of Specialized Stroke Hospitals

When managing stroke, time is brain. Every minute that stroke therapy is delayed can make a major difference in outcomes for patients. Appropriate treatment of stroke requires a well-organized, protocol-driven, evidence-based approach to meet treatment goals. Goals include seeing patients with stroke symptoms within 15 minutes, performing a CAT scan and having it read within 25 minutes, and treating patients with tPA within an hour of their arrival. The challenge for physicians is that all of these goals must be accomplished within a limited amount of time. Primary Stroke Center Certification In an effort to improve stroke outcomes and eliminate disparities in access to acute stroke centers, the Joint Commission developed a primary stroke center certification program in collaboration with the American Stroke Association (ASA). The program encourages hospitals and medical centers to apply for a Certificate of Distinction for Primary Stroke Centers in order to be recognized as a center that makes exceptional efforts to improve performance measures in the treatment of stroke. Achievement of certification signifies that the services provided have the critical elements to achieve long-term success in improving outcomes. In order to receive certification, centers must have the appropriate infrastructure in place—including personnel and protocols—to deal with acute stroke and collect different data points so that performance can be tracked. Centers must also offer public education about stroke and medical education for members on the stroke service team. “Every minute that stroke therapy is delayed can make a major difference in outcome.” The Joint Commission monitors certified centers longitudinally, using numerous performance indicators, to validate that the center is meeting certification parameters. Previous studies have...