the early phase of stroke, minutes are critical. Since the majority of patients with stroke are transported by the Emergency Medical Service (EMS), the early handling and decision making by the EMS clinician is important.
The study aim was to evaluate the frequency of a documented suspicion of stroke by the EMS nurse, and to investigate differences in the clinical signs of stroke and clinical assessment in the prehospital setting among patients with regard to if there was a documented suspicion of stroke on EMS arrival or not, in patients with a final hospital diagnosis of stroke.
The study had a retrospective observational design. Data were collected from reports on patients who were transported by the EMS and had a final diagnosis of stroke at a single hospital in western Sweden (630 beds) in 2015. The data sources were hospital and prehospital medical journals.
In total, 454 patients were included. Among them, the EMS clinician suspected stroke in 52%. The findings and documentation on patients with a suspected stroke differed from the remaining patients as follows:
More frequently documented symptoms from the face, legs/arms, and speech;
More frequently assessments of neurology, face, arms/legs, speech, and eyes;
More frequently addressed the major complaint with regard to time and place of onset, duration, localization, and radiation;
Less frequently documented symptoms of headache, vertigo, and nausea; and
More frequently had an electrocardiogram (ECG) recorded and plasma glucose sampled.
In addition to the 52% of patients who had a documented initial suspicion of stroke, seven percent of the patients had an initial suspicion of transitory ischemic attack (TIA) by the EMS clinician, and a neurologist was approached in another 10%.
Among 454 patients with a final diagnosis of stroke who were transported by the EMS, an initial suspicion of stroke was not documented in one-half of the cases. These patients differed from those in whom a suspicion of stroke was documented in terms of limited clinical signs of stroke, a less extensive clinical assessment, and fewer clinical investigations.
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