“Within the first 15 minutes we have to recognize the situation as a stroke and we’re really focusing on getting these patients treated in less than three hours,” said Dr. Matthew Bowes, who practices emergency medicine at Northern Michigan Regional Hospital in Petoskey. “The quicker the response, the better the outcome for our patients.”
Because of the work of Bowes and his staff, the hospital was recently recognized for excellence in stroke treatment and quick diagnosis of cases.
For the last four years, the hospital was one of 24 Michigan hospitals involved in the INSTINCT trial, which stands for Increasing Stroke Treatment through Interventional Behavior Change Tactics.
Participating hospitals were divided into control and intervention groups.
Intervention hospitals received a number of educational activities and ongoing feedback to increase the use of tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA — a clot buster drug used for patients who suffered a stroke.
Northern Michigan Regional Hospital was in the control group, which meant it received no special education or assistance from the trial.
Yet it still excelled.
“What’s most interesting about the study is, in theory, we shouldn’t have improved on anything over the last three years, but the study found we outperformed most of the intervention groups,” Bowes explained.
Not connected to the study but during the trial period, hospital staff focused on an action plan to coordinate staff members and cut down on response time.
“It’s really our action plan that sets us apart,” explained Reezie DeVet, president and CEO of Northern Michigan Regional Health System. “We have a stroke team in place and everything is coordinated and timed out to have quick diagnostic and quick intervention.”
The hospital received the following awards for their performance in the trial:
— Most improvement in percentage of stroke patients treated 2007 vs. 2009-10
— Highest percentage of stroke patients treated with tPA in 2009-10
— Most improvement in percentage treated 2008 vs. 2009-10
— Data management award
The hospital also received several honorable mention awards.
“As the only certified stroke center in Northern Michigan, our dedication to patient-centered initiatives has resulted in some of the best outcomes in the state,” DeVet said. “The INSTINCT trial is consistent with our treatment initiatives as we strive to continuously improve the quality and safety of the patients in our region.”
“It means better care for patients,” Bowes added. “As a team we are making amazing progress and that is going to continue.”
Final results of the trial are expected later this year.