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Emergency department delays in acute stroke – analysis of time between ED arrival and imaging

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We determined the factors leading to emergency department (ED) delays in patients with acute stroke. Data were collected prospectively in four Berlin inner-city hospitals by ED documentation, medical records, imaging files and patient interviews. An extended Cox proportional hazards model was fitted to the data. Analyses were performed in 558 patients with confirmed diagnosis of stroke. Median time from admission at ED to beginning of computed tomography/magnetic resonance imaging (CT/MRI) was 108 min. In a subgroup of patients potentially eligible for thrombolysis with a pre-hospital delay <120 min and a National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) >4 (n = 74), the median interval to imaging was 68 min. Multivariable analysis revealed that a more severe initial NIHSS, a pre-hospital delay <3 h, admission at two specific hospitals, admission at weekends, and private health insurance were significantly associated with reduced delays. In stroke patients, the time interval between ED admission and imaging depends both on factors that emerge from clinical needs and on factors independent of clinical necessities. Considering the urgency of therapeutic measures in acute stroke, there is necessity and room for both improvement of in-hospital management and of medical and non-medical factors influencing pre-hospital delays.
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Keywords: Emergency Department delays; acute; imaging; in-hospital delays; stroke; stroke management

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Neurology, Medical School, Charité, Berlin, Germany 2: Institute of Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics, Medical School, Charité, Berlin, Germany 3: Department of Neurology, Hospital Friedrichshain, Berlin, Germany 4: Institute for Statistics and Econometrics, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

Publication date: 01 March 2006

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