Stroke thrombolysis given by emergency physicians: The time is here

Emergency Medicine core clinical privileges include administration of thrombolytic therapy for myocardial infarction and stroke. However,emergency medicine providers have created their own paradigm to rely on neurology specialty consultation to treat acute stroke patients. A 2013 study supported by the American Academy of Neurology showed an 11% shortage of neurologists at that time and projected a 19% shortage by 2025. The lack of neurologists is a worldwide problem. To help ease the shortage, teleneurology and telestroke care has been implemented by neurologists, most notably for acute ischemic stroke (AIS) patients. We present a model in which an Emergency Medicine (EM) Stroke Champion (SC); an EM physician within our Neurologic Emergency Department, directs care for acute stroke patients at our comprehensive hub and primary stroke center spoke hospitals. The SCs independently treat patients with fibrinolytic therapy and provide teleneurology to fellow emergency physicians caring for acute stroke patients at spoke hospitals. Over nineteen months the SCs received 457 phone calls for patients meeting stroke alert criteria. Sixteen patients were deemed eligible for IV alteplase with one hemorrhagic conversion (6.25%). Sixty-four patients required transfer, and this was facilitated by the SCs. The concept of emergency physician SCs providing teleneurology consultation to other fellow emergency physicians was found to be feasible and safe. This model has the potential to be generalized not to just stroke champions, but to all emergency physicians to feel both confident and comfortable treating acute stroke patients.

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