‘Emergency room on wheels,’ complete with CT scanner, speeds delivery of care to stroke patients

Providing emergency care to victims of stroke is all about timing—the swifter the response of emergency medical services, the better the chances become for favorable patient outcomes.

New Mobile Stroke Treatment Units (MSTU) outfitted with CT scanners and staffed with nurses, paramedics and CT technologists are helping to shave critical minutes off of stroke response times, according to two new studies presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2015.

“Using Mobile Stroke Treatment Units to provide pre-hospital evaluation and treatment of stroke should revolutionize the care of these patients,” Muhammad Shazam Hussain, MD, lead researcher and head of the Cleveland Clinic Stroke Program, said in a statement.

Hussain and his colleagues compared data from the evaluation and treatment of stroke patients since implementation of the MSTUs in Cleveland with correlating data recorded before the program began for stroke patients treated in the emergency room. Researchers found significant reductions in arrival, CT scan completion, and treatment times for patients cared for by the MSTUs. “Stroke victims lose two million neurons (brain cells) per minute, so this reduction in time with the MSTU could potentially result in much better outcomes,” according to Hussain.

Another study, presented by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, detailed how researchers turned a donated ambulance into the country’s first MTSU. It treated its first patient on May 16, 2014, and carries out onsite stroke treatment to patients within 10-18 minutes of arrival.

“Our ultimate goal is to show that patients treated on the mobile stroke unit will have better outcomes because of earlier treatment and, therefore, will have fewer long-term acute care needs and/or rehabilitation needs,” said lead researcher Stephanie A. Parker, RN, BSN., of the UTHealth Medical School in Houston.

You can read more about how Houston’s MTSU program is changing patient outcomes for the better in this feature article from a recent issue of Cardiovascular Business magazine.