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A Link to Improve Stroke Patient Care: A Successful Linkage Between a Statewide Emergency Medical Services Data System and a Stroke Registry

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Abstract Objectives: 

Regionalization of stroke care, including diversion to stroke centers, requires that emergency medical services (EMS) systems accurately identify acute stroke patients. A barrier to evaluating and improving EMS stroke patient identification is the inability to link EMS data with hospital data for individual patients. We sought to create and validate a linkage of the North Carolina EMS Data System (NC-EMS-DS) with data contained in the North Carolina Stroke Care Collaborative (NCSCC) Registry. Methods: 

All NCSCC Registry patients arriving to one of three hospitals by EMS in a 6-month period were matched against NC-EMS-DS. Records were deterministically matched on receiving hospital, hospital arrival date/time, age, and sex. We performed linkage validation by providing each site investigator with a stroke patient list derived from North Carolina Stroke Care Collaborative Registry (NC-EMS-DS), matched by individual patient to deidentified data in the NCSCCR. Each site investigator determined the set of true matches by comparing the matched list to a NCSCCR patient identifier key maintained at each site. Incorrect matches were reviewed by the research team to identify methods for future improvement in the matching logic. Results: 

For the three validation hospitals, 753 NCSCC Registry patients arrived by EMS. For these patients, 473 (63%) matches to local EMS records were identified, and 421 (89%) of the matches were verified using full patient identifiers. Most match verification failures were due to incorrect date/time stamp and inability to find a corresponding EMS record. Conclusions: 

Linking EMS records electronically to a stroke registry is feasible and leads to a large number of valid matches. This small validation is limited by EMS data quality. Matching may improve with better EMS documentation and standardized facility documentation.

ACADEMIC EMERGENCY MEDICINE 2010; 17:1398–1404 © 2010 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2010


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