Canadians are not getting the care they need fast enough in the critical first hours after stroke, according to a report from the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Dr. Phil Teal says the foundation wants more health authorities to implement “bypass agreements,” allowing paramedics to bypass closer hospitals in order to go to one more equipped to provide specialized stroke care.
“We can all do a better job, we are always looking at our times, yes in the pre-hospital scene we can do a better job, once the patient hits the emergency department we can do a better job, we are always trying to shave a few minutes here and a few minutes there.”
The report is also calling for ALL paramedics to “pre-notify” ERs when they are coming in with a stroke patient.
“We do hear stories about patients being kept waiting in the emergency department for long periods of times, our stroke patients are met at the front door, rapidly triaged, straight to the CT scan, and that is all in the effort to save valuable time.”
Teal says with big strokes, two million brain cells die every minute, so every moment counts.
Fraser Health is currently working on revamping its policies to allow all stroke victims to go right to Royal Columbian for specialized treatment.
Cameron Eby with the Ambulance Paramedics Union of BC says they aren’t getting to calls quickly enough.
“We need more paramedic resources, and we need to find new ways to use our existing paramedic resources, to make sure we are getting to patients faster.”
Dr. William Dick with BC Emergency Health Services admits it’s not yet meeting the national standard of 9 minutes.
“That benchmark is something we strive to get to, right now for our stroke calls we are around 10 minutes, 10 and a half minutes.”
But Dick insists on scene times are some of the shortest in Canada.
The report also discovered an alarming amount of people would not be able to recognize a stroke if it occurred.
According to a poll it conducted, only one third of Canadians are able to describe a stroke.
Burnaby Stroke Survivor Peter Legge says he had no idea what was happening to him.
“I didn’t recognize the symptoms of a stroke. Now it took me a number of years to recover, I got my speech back and my equilibrium back, and all of the other things going wrong, and I was really lucky.”
The Foundation is launching a new campaign promoting the acronym FAST to help Canadians recognize the signs of stroke.
FACE – is it drooping?
ARMS – can you raise both?
SPEECH – is it slurred or jumbled?
TIME – to call 9-1-1 right away.