North Carolina stroke prevention and treatment facilities survey. Statewide availability of programs and services.
BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to determine the statewide availability of facilities and programs for stroke prevention and treatment to identify underserved regions and target educational efforts. METHODS: A single-page survey was mailed to the directors of each inpatient medical facility in North Carolina. Data collected included the availability of selected diagnostic tests, programs, and services. Facilities were categorized as providing basic (emergency department, brain CT, treatment with rtPA, transthoracic echocardiography, carotid ultrasonography, cerebral angiography, carotid endarterectomy) or advanced (basic services plus brain MRI, MR angiography, transesophageal echocardiography, transcranial Doppler ultrasonography, interventional radiology) services. The availability of other programs and services, including having a neurologist on staff, organized anticoagulation clinics, inpatient rehabilitative services, diffusion-weighted MRI, community awareness and rapid stroke identification programs, stroke teams, stroke acute care units or an equivalent, and the use of stroke-care maps, were also determined. RESULTS: Complete responses were obtained from all of the state's 125 inpatient medical facilities. Overall, 97% of the state's population resided in counties with a hospital providing at least some stroke prevention or treatment procedures or services. Full basic services were provided by 23 facilities located in 19 of the state's 100 counties and were available to 52% of the state's population based on county of residence; advanced services were provided by 8 facilities located in 7 counties and were available to 26% of the state's population based on county of residence. Stroke-care maps were used in 83% of basic or advanced centers versus 23% of other hospitals (P<0.001), stroke teams were organized in 48% versus 12% (P=0.001), stroke units or equivalents were available in 61% versus 9% (P<0.001), rapid patient identification programs were in place in 57% versus 9% (P<0.001), and community awareness programs were in place in 57% versus 21% (P=0.005). CONCLUSIONS: Only 52% of the state's population reside in counties with hospitals providing full basic services; by expanding these services to only 6 additional facilities and thereby encompassing the state's 50 most populous counties, this proportion would be increased to 84%. Services that may improve outcomes and reduce costs (eg, stroke teams, stroke units, care maps) are not widely used, even in centers with full basic capabilities. Targeting educational efforts to these centers could improve the overall level of stroke care for the majority of the state's population. The study serves as a model that can be applied to other states and regions.
Goldstein, LB; Hey, LA; Laney, R
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