FAIRFAX, Va., March 29, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Tennessee Legislature today passed a bill that will improve the way first responders triage and transport severe stroke patients across the state, a move the Get Ahead of Stroke campaign says will help reduce disability and death, as well as lower the immense costs associated with long-term health care. The bill is awaiting Governor Bill Haslam's signature and will take effect July 1, 2018. Stroke is a leading cause of death in the state.
The historic legislation directs emergency medical services to establish protocols for pre-hospital assessment, treatment and transport of stroke patients, all through coordination with hospitals to best address patient needs. These protocols would include education for responders in how to identify severe stroke patients who are experiencing the blockage of a large blood vessel (an emergent large vessel occlusion, or ELVO). These patients are often eligible for neuroendovascular stroke surgery, which can decrease the likelihood of disability or death if performed early enough. The bill ensures that these patients will be triaged and quickly transported to the facility best equipped to treat them.
"This legislation is the next step forward in creating a comprehensive stroke system of care throughout the state," said Senator Bill Ketron, the bill's primary sponsor in the Tennessee Senate. "This will ensure stroke patients get to the best stroke center as quickly as possible, and it brings Tennessee one step closer to improving stroke care."
"The passage of this legislation puts Tennessee on the leading edge of stroke care. These new protocols will help ensure every stroke patient — not just the lucky ones — is triaged properly in the field, and that those suspected of severe stroke are taken directly to the best facilities. Because of these protocols, we will see more patients survive and thrive after stroke," said Dr. Blaise Baxter, an interventional neuroradiologist in Chattanooga and the president of the Society of NeuroInterventional Surgery (SNIS).
Similar to how EMS personnel triage trauma patients, the new legislation is designed to help educate first responders about properly assessing stroke severity in the field and transporting severe ischemic (ELVO) stroke patients to the proper facilities.
"ELVO patients, like trauma patients, must receive immediate specialized care if they are to be saved. These new protocols will greatly improve the odds of patients with the deadliest type of stroke having their stroke reversed, sometimes enabling them to walk out of the hospital within a few days. We hope more states follow suit," said Dr. Adam Arthur, a neurointerventionalist in Memphis and the president-elect of SNIS.
The Get Ahead of Stroke campaign is working across the country to improve systems of care for all stroke patients. Last year, the Colorado Legislature unanimously passed a resolution encouraging the public health department to update stroke protocols. In Arizona, a special council updated the state's protocols with a focus on triaging stroke patients. We are also working to improve stroke care systems through policy change in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio and Virginia.
To speak with Dr. Arthur or Dr. Baxter, please contact Faith James at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-248-5450.
Get Ahead of Stroke is a national public education and advocacy campaign designed to improve systems of care for stroke patients. An initiative of the Society of NeuroInterventional Surgery (SNIS), the campaign's goal is to secure the best possible outcomes for stroke patients by driving policy change and public awareness nationwide. Visit www.getaheadofstroke.org to learn more.
SOURCE Get Ahead of Stroke