Importance: Transferring patients with large-vessel occlusion (LVO) or intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) to hospitals not providing interventional treatment options is an unresolved medical problem.
Objective: To determine how optimized prehospital management (OPM) based on use of the Los Angeles Motor Scale (LAMS) compares with management in a Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU) in accurately triaging patients to the appropriate hospital with (comprehensive stroke center [CSC]) or without (primary stroke center [PSC]) interventional treatment.
Design, Setting, and Participants: In this randomized multicenter trial with 3-month follow-up, patients were assigned week-wise to one of the pathways between June 15, 2015, and November 15, 2017, in 2 regions of Saarland, Germany; 708 of 824 suspected stroke patients did not meet inclusion criteria, resulting in a study population of 116 adult patients.
Interventions: Patients received either OPM based on a standard operating procedure that included the use of the LAMS (cut point ≥4) or management in an MSU (an ambulance with vascular imaging, point-of-care laboratory, and telecommunication capabilities).
Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary end point was the proportion of patients accurately triaged to either CSCs (LVO, ICH) or PSCs (others).
Results: A predefined interim analysis was performed after 116 patients of the planned 232 patients had been enrolled. Of these, 53 were included in the OPM group (67.9% women; mean [SD] age, 74  years) and 63 in the MSU group (57.1% women; mean [SD] age, 75  years). The primary end point, an accurate triage decision, was reached for 37 of 53 patients (69.8%) in the OPM group and for 63 of 63 patients (100%) in the MSU group (difference, 30.2%; 95% CI, 17.8%-42.5%; P <.001). Whereas 7 of 17 OPM patients (41.2%) with LVO or ICH required secondary transfers from a PSC to a CSC, none of the 11 MSU patients (0%) required such transfers (difference, 41.2%; 95% CI, 17.8%-64.6%; P =.02). The LAMS at a cut point of 4 or higher led to an accurate diagnosis of LVO or ICH for 13 of 17 patients (76.5%; 6 triaged to a CSC) and of LVO selectively for 7 of 9 patients (77.8%; 2 triaged to a CSC). Stroke management metrics were better in the MSU group, although patient outcomes were not significantly different.
Conclusions and Relevance: Whereas prehospital management optimized by LAMS allows accurate triage decisions for approximately 70% of patients, MSU-based management enables accurate triage decisions for 100%. Depending on the specific health care environment considered, both approaches are potentially valuable in triaging stroke patients.