Background: Acute stroke patients are usually transported to the nearest hospital regardless of their required level of care. This can lead to increased pressure on emergency departments and treatment delay.
Objective: The aim of the study was to explore the benefit of a mobile stroke unit (MSU) in the UK National Health Service (NHS) for reduction of hospital admissions.
Methods: Prospective cohort audit observation with dispatch of the MSU in the East of England Ambulance Service area in Southend-on-Sea was conducted. Emergency patients categorized as code stroke and headache were included from June 5, 2018, to December 18, 2018. Rate of avoided admission to the accident and emergency (A&E) department, rate of admission directly to target ward, and stroke management metrics were assessed.
Results: In 116 MSU-treated patients, the following diagnoses were made: acute stroke, n = 33 (28.4%); transient ischaemic attacks, n = 13 (11.2%); stroke mimics, n = 32 (27.6%); and other conditions, n = 38 (32.8%). Pre-hospital thrombolysis was administered to 8 of 28 (28.6%) ischaemic stroke patients. Pre-hospital diagnosis avoided hospital admission for 29 (25.0%) patients. As hospital treatment was indicated, 35 (30.2%) patients were directly triaged to the stroke unit, 1 patient (0.9%) even directly to the catheter laboratory. Thus, only 50 (43.1%) patients required transfer to the A&E department. Moreover, the MSU enabled thrombolysis with a median dispatch-to-needle time of 42 min (interquartile range, 40-60).
Conclusion: This first deployment of an MSU in the UK NHS demonstrated improved triage decision-making for or against hospital admission and admission to the appropriate target ward, thereby reducing pressure on strained A&E departments.
- Mobile stroke unit
- Large vessel occlusion