Low staff awareness of stroke treatment

Many hospital staff have low awareness of a vital drug therapy used to treat stroke patients, new research has indicated.

A study carried out among doctors, nurses and other professionals at Dublin's Beaumont Hospital found that there was a low awareness overall among staff of clot-busting thrombolysis treatment.

The researchers say this is of concern in cases where someone is already being treated as an inpatient at a hospital suffers a stroke, more so than with patients who are admitted specifically as a stroke emergency case.

Clot-busting treatment is highly effective for many stroke patients, but is recommended to be given within 4.5 hours of a stroke starting in order for it to work. It is recommended only for strokes caused by blood clots, and can help reduce mortality and damage following a stroke. The treatment can also be used for heart attacks.

A research team from the Royal College of Surgeons In Ireland and Beaumont Hospital surveyed 96 staff members operating at ward level throughout the hospital, 81% of whom were health professionals.

It was found that nine out of 10 staff had adequate knowledge of stroke symptoms; in other words they were able to name three or more symptoms.

However, only 49% of the staff surveyed were aware of clot-busting thrombolysis treatment for stroke and only 48% could identify the ‘treatment window' of 4.5 hours for thrombolysis administration.

Staff on neurology wards were found to be more likely than staff on general medical and surgical wards to name more stroke symptoms.

It was also found that post-stroke depression among patients was poorly recognised as a long-term consequence of stroke.

The researchers concluded that staff throughout the hospital had adequate knowledge of stroke symptoms. However, a cause of concern was the low awareness of clot-busting therapy for treating strokes.

They said if inpatient staff in hospitals do not active stroke treatment protocols immediately when an in-hospital stroke occurs, opportunities for treatment with thrombolysis may be missed.

The research was presented at the Irish Heart Foundation's 18th Annual Stroke Conference in Dublin.

[Posted: Sat 04/04/2015]

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