Statewide hospital-based stroke services in North Carolina: changes over 10 years.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Statewide assessments of stroke prevention and treatment services were performed in North Carolina in 1998 and 2003. The 2003 survey found certain technologies, but not stroke-related programs, were more widely available. The survey was repeated in 2008 to determine whether there was an interval change in accessibility. METHODS: A 2-page questionnaire was sent to each North Carolina hospital. Results were compared with the 1998 and 2003 surveys. RESULTS: Complete responses were obtained from each of the state's emergent stroke care hospitals. The proportions providing CT angiography and diffusion-weighted MRI increased between each period (each P<0.05); the use of care maps and intravenous tissue plasminogen activator protocols increased between 2003 and 2008 but not between 1998 and 2003. There were no changes in availability of MRI, MR angiography, catheter angiography, carotid ultrasound, transcranial Doppler, transthoracic echocardiography, or in the proportions of hospitals having a stroke unit, having a neurologist or neurointerventionalist readily available, or providing stroke-related public education (each P>0.05). The proportions of hospitals having a group of "basic" stroke capabilities did not change (18%, 21%, and 20%, respectively, P>0.05). In 2008, 41% of North Carolina's population resided in a county with at least 1 Primary Stroke Center and an additional 40% in a county using telemedicine or having a transfer plan for patients with acute stroke. CONCLUSIONS: The availability of certain diagnostic tests, but not specialty staff or stroke units, increased in North Carolina hospitals between 1998 and 2008. Although there was no change in stroke-related hospital-based organizational features between 1998 and 2003, there were improvements between 2003 and 2008, possibly reflecting programs aimed at developing stroke care systems.
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