The association between prehospital care and in-hospital treatment decisions in acute stroke: a cohort study

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Colleges, School and Institutes


BACKGROUND: Hospital prealerting in acute stroke improves the timeliness of subsequent treatment, but little is known about the impact of prehospital assessments on in-hospital care.

OBJECTIVE: Examine the association between prehospital assessments and notification by emergency medical service staff on the subsequent acute stroke care pathway.

METHODS: This was a cohort study of linked patient medical records. Consenting patients with a diagnosis of stroke were recruited from two urban hospitals. Data from patient medical records were extracted and entered into a Cox regression analysis to investigate the association between time to CT request and recording of onset time, stroke recognition (using the Face Arm Speech Test (FAST)) and sending of a prealert message.

RESULTS: 151 patients (aged 71±15 years) travelled to hospital via ambulance and were eligible for this analysis. Time of symptom onset was recorded in 61 (40%) cases, the FAST test was positive in 114 (75%) and a prealert message was sent in 65 (44%). Following adjustment for confounding, patients who had time of onset recorded (HR 0.73, 95% CI 0.52 to 1.03), were FAST-positive (HR 0.54, 95% CI 0.37 to 0.80) or were prealerted (HR 0.26, 95% CI 0.18 to 0.38), were more likely to receive a timely CT request in hospital.

CONCLUSIONS: This study highlights the importance of hospital prealerting, accurate stroke recognition, and recording of onset time. Those not recognised with stroke in a prehospital setting appear to be excluded from the possibility of rapid treatment in hospital, even before they have been seen by a specialist.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-9
Number of pages7
JournalEmergency Medicine Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


  • Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Cohort Studies, Emergency Medical Service Communication Systems, Emergency Medical Services, Emergency Service, Hospital, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Neurologic Examination, Stroke, Time Factors