Emergency Medical Services Capacity for Prehospital Stroke Care in North Carolina
Published Date:Sep 05 2013
Source:Prev Chronic Dis. 10.
Prior assessments of emergency medical services (EMS) stroke capacity found deficiencies in education and training, use of protocols and screening tools, and planning for the transport of patients. A 2001 survey of North Carolina EMS providers found many EMS systems lacked basic stroke services. Recent statewide efforts have sought to standardize and improve prehospital stroke care. The objective of this study was to assess EMS stroke care capacity in North Carolina and evaluate statewide changes since 2001.
In June 2012, we conducted a web-based survey on stroke education and training and stroke care practices and policies among all EMS systems in North Carolina. We used the McNemar test to assess changes from 2001 to 2012.
Of 100 EMS systems in North Carolina, 98 responded to our survey. Most systems reported providing stroke education and training (95%) to EMS personnel, using a validated stroke scale or screening tool (96%), and having a hospital prenotification policy (98%). Many were suboptimal in covering basic stroke educational topics (71%), always communicating stroke screen results to the destination hospital (46%), and always using a written destination plan (49%). Among 70 EMS systems for which we had data for 2001 and 2012, we observed significant improvements in education on stroke scales or screening tools (61% to 93%, P < .001) and use of validated stroke scales or screening tools (23% to 96%, P < .001).
Major improvements in EMS stroke care, especially in prehospital stroke screening, have occurred in North Carolina in the past decade, whereas other practices and policies, including use of destination plans, remain in need of improvement.
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