Limited resources prevent specialized care in community hospitals (CH) challenging geographical equity. We studied the impact of a regional interhospital network based on urgent transfer from 4 CH to a referral stroke center (RSC). Methods: During 2006, all stroke patients admitted to the 5 networked hospitals (4 CH, 1 RSC) were studied: clinical pathways and stroke interventions were recorded. Physicians at CH decided emergent transfer under their clinical judgment. Quality therapeutic measures where defined: urgent expert neurological evaluation, stroke unit admission and thrombolytic treatment. For patients receiving tissue plasminogen activator, demographic and outcome data were recorded: clinical improvement (decrease ≥4 National Institute of Health Stroke Scale points at discharge), total recovery (3-month modified Rankin Scale score ≥1). Results: From a total of 1,925 acute stroke patients, 1,587 were admitted to the RSC (1,396 primarily). Of 529 primarily admitted to CH, 191 (36.1%) were emergently transferred. Patients primarily admitted to the RSC were more frequently evaluated by a neurologist (100 vs. 34%; p < 0.001) and admitted to a stroke unit (22.7 vs. 11.7%; p < 0.001). However, the rate of thrombolytic treatment was similar (4.4 vs. 5.1%; p = 0.491). After initial assessment at the RSC, 92 (48.2%) transfers were considered unnecessary. Transferred patients accounted for 27/88 (30.7%) thrombolyses performed in the RSC. Baseline characteristics were similar, except a longer time to treatment (164 vs. 211 min; p = 0.004) and more frequent early ischemia CT signs among transferred patients (23 vs. 53%; p = 0.037). Clinical improvement (62 vs. 50%; p = 0.273) and symptomatic hemorrhagic transformation (6.8 vs. 3.8%; p = 0.596) were similar. However, among transferred patients, the degree of total recovery was lower (44 vs. 22%; p = 0.05). Conclusion: An interhospital network based on transfers to an RSC does not warrant geographical equity: equal access to best therapeutic interventions is only partially achieved at the expense of a high proportion of unnecessary transfers. Copyright © 2008 S. Karger AG.
|Publication status||Published - 1 Sep 2008|
- Acute stroke care, Catalunya
- Interhospital network