According to a recent survey carried out by researchers from the Duke Clinical Research Institute, many hospitals overestimate their potential to intervene in stroke cases. There is a significant difference between the optimistic expectations hospitals have and the actual efficiency of stroke intervention teams.
Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is a substance that helps to break down blood clots. It provides mostly immediate relief for those have experienced a stroke, giving them time until further medical care is given. tPA must administered within less than 5 hours after the actual stroke, and current guidelines say it should be delivered within an hour after the patient has entered the hospital.
Proper administration of this substance can also prevent the long-terms effect of a stroke. But this study, which included intervention teams from 141 hospitals across the U.S., suggests that many health care providers overestimate their ability to properly administer emergency stroke medication.
The research was carried out by surveying the staff via telephone. They were asked to respond to a series of general questions, including how well did team members interact with one another and how they monitored their patients.
After that, more specific queries regarding the administration of tPA were made, such as how often was the substance delivered within the required hour. The responses obtained this way were then compared to the health records of more than 48,000 patients over a period of two years.
The findings revealed that less than a third of the surveyed staff correctly appreciated the time it took for stroke patients to receive the proper medication. Things would not look so bad if the intervention team members were just being modest.
But it would appear that most often believe they were doing better than they were. As effective of a confidence boost that may be, it prevents measures that would ensure a better performance to be taken.
The research also found that hospitals who overestimated their performance in the field had actually lower administration rates of tPA than the average. The main factor that seemed to affect the quality of emergency care was the total number of stroke patients, while the size of the hospital or geographical location did not seem to matter.
The data should not be taken as a form of harsh criticism towards intervention teams whose work has saved countless lives. It merely points out that significant improvements could be made so that strokes make even fewer victims in the future.
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