Many people use video chat to keep in touch with family and friends. One local hospital is using it to save lives. Hendricks Regional Health, a hospital headquartered in Danville, Indiana, with medical facilities in Avon, Brownsburg, Plainfield and more, is one of the first hospitals in the nation to launch a mobile telestroke program, allowing doctors to start evaluating stroke victims before they reach the hospital.
Dr. James Nossett with Hendricks Regional Health is one of the doctors leading this project. Nossett says time is of the essence when working with stroke victims.
“I use the term ‘time is brain,’ because stroke victims lose about 2 million brain cells per minute. Sadly, I can’t tell you how many times people come to the hospital and say their stroke symptoms started the day before they came to the hospital. The family and the patient say they wanted to wait it out and see if symptoms got better. Well, it’s too late then,” said Nossett.
The American Stroke Association recommends patients receive a powerful drug known as tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) within an hour of reaching the hospital to minimize the long-term effects of the stroke. TPA is the only approved treatment for clot-related strokes, but it is only approved for use within a limited number of hours after symptom onset.
Nossett says the steps doctors are required to take before administering the drug, such as checking in the patient, evaluating their symptoms, ordering needed medications and preparing the CT scan for the patient, can make it difficult to get the medication to the patient with 60 minutes of arrival. That’s why Hendricks Regional Health has teamed up with Hendricks County’s emergency medical services to allow doctors to connect with patients while they are still being transported to the facilities.
“The paramedics call in and say they want to go telestroke. We connect with an iPad and do this live on FaceTime, with the patient and the EMTs,” said Nossett. “They give us the name of the patient so we can get them plugged into our system before they even arrive. It lets us put orders in and give a heads up to our CT scan person. We start a nine-step exam, asking them to do different things like smiling, raising their eyebrows, holding their arms out, speaking and some other things. Normally we can’t do it until they get to the hospital, but now we can do it before.”
Because the program is new, Nossett doesn’t have any statistics regarding the program’s outcomes yet. However, he feels they have been hitting the mark of getting patients treatment in under an hour.
-Every year, 795,000 people in the U.S. have a stroke; almost 130,000 are fatal.
– There are nearly 7 million stroke survivors in the U.S.
– Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S.
– Factors such as high blood pressure, bad eating habits, smoking, drinking and lack of exercise can put you at risk of having a stroke.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
National Stroke Association