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Vol. 25, No. 4, 2008
Issue release date: April 2008

Telemedically Provided Stroke Expertise beyond Normal Working Hours

The Telemedical Project for Integrative Stroke Care

Vatankhah B. · Schenkel J. · Fürst A. · Haberl R.L. · Audebert H.J.
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Background: State-of-the-art stroke management requires neurological expertise for the recognition of complex cerebrovascular syndromes or stroke-mimicking symptoms and initiation of proven acute therapies. Many community hospitals struggle to fulfill these premises particularly at evening/nighttimes or weekends. Telemedicine can improve that situation by offering rapid access to neurological expertise, but it has not been shown to what extent it is used beyond working times. Methods: The Telemedical Project for Integrated Stroke Care is a telemedical network of 2 stroke centers and 12 regional general hospitals with newly established stroke wards in Bavaria. This analysis comprises all teleconsultations from 1st February 2003 to 15th December 2006. The consultations were prospectively documented and categorized according to predefined indications and direct impact on clinical decisions. The teleconsultations were analyzed concerning whether they were requested during regular working time or during off-time (at evening/nighttimes or weekends). Results: A total of 10,239 teleconsultations were carried out in 8,326 patients. The 6,679 patients with cerebrovascular diagnosis comprised 51% of all admitted stroke cases between 2003 and 2006. During off-time 6,306 consultations (62%) were requested; 1,598 teleconsultations yielded nonstroke diagnoses, with 68% beyond working hours. Of all presented stroke patients 567 (8.5%) received systemic thrombolysis, with 58% off-time. Interhospital transports were initiated in 1,050 patients (10.5% of all), mainly for specific diagnostic workup or interventional treatments. Sixty percent of these transfers were launched off-time. Conclusions: The majority of teleconsultations were requested beyond normal working times and a significant proportion had an immediate impact on clinical decisions.

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