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OMC Officials Concerned With Latest Stroke Numbers

OMC Officials Concerned With Latest Stroke Numbers

Reminds the public that Stroke is an Emergency

Officials at Ozarks Medical Center (OMC) are concerned with the latest stroke numbers. In October and November, twenty-one stroke patients sought help too late to receive the tPA treatment. The key to surviving a stroke is time.

The problem is that patients are not calling 911 at the first sign of stroke. They are waiting to ‘see what happens’ before they even ask for help,” according to Gay Stover, OMC Executive Director of Marketing. “By the time the patient or family decides to come to us, the stroke has been going on for several hours or even days and it is too late. We want the public to understand the importance of seeking help at the very first symptom of stroke. We work closely with first responders and we can often stop a stroke if the patient calls 911 at the first sign of stroke.”

The benefit of receiving tPA treatment can make a huge difference in the patient’s recovery. Stroke is a medical emergency where time is very important. The clot buster, tPA must be given within 3 to 4 1/2 hours from the start of stroke symptoms, but the sooner, the better. For some patients, other treatment may be available for up to 12 hours. The American Heart Association reports that unfortunately, only 4 percent of stroke patients nationwide receive the recommended treatment in the key hours after stroke.

The national standard is to administer the tPA within 60 minutes of arrival at the hospital. OMC’s average for 2015 was 43 minutes.

“We are very proud that OMC’s response time beats the national standard. The quicker someone can receive care for a stroke, the better the outcomes for their long-term health,” Dr. Clara Applegate, OMC Neurologist said. “Having a trained stroke response team ready to act allows us to rapidly identify and assess a patient’s condition. It is not always possible to prevent a stroke, but with timely, evidence-based care, it is possible to prevent many of the complications of stroke.”

Dr. Applegate said it is critical for those who may be experiencing a stroke to act fast and call 911.

“Even if you are close to the hospital, it is important to call 911,” she said. “The paramedics can begin treatment in the ambulance and can notify the Emergency Department to put the OMC Stroke Team on alert.

OMC’s multidisciplinary stroke team is made up of nurses, physicians, neurologists, ambulance services, therapists and Emergency Department workers who respond to stroke. According to Dr. Applegate, the first step is that people need to be aware and call 911. All of the EMS systems (ground and air ambulances) recognize that stroke is an emergency and that every minute counts, so as soon as the 911 call comes in, EMS notifies the stroke team at OMC to be on alert. When the patient arrives at the hospital the stroke is confirmed by the doctors and CT scan is done right away. CT scan of the head must be done right away to avoid giving clot buster to someone with a hemorrhage or another problem. The “clot busting drug,” tPA, may be given right away if the diagnosis is confirmed and blood pressure is controlled.

“OMC has worked diligently over the past 19 years to educate the community on the importance of fast action. Currently, we are able to treat 29% of ischemic strokes with tPA at Ozarks Medical Center, much higher than the national average. We attempt to treat 100% of strokes that are eligible for treatment. We are striving for all patients who come to be treatable, but that depends upon the community. Too often, people wait to see if they'll get better. If they wait too long, we cannot administer tPA,” according to Dr. Applegate “We have been providing 24/7 stroke care since 1997 and with each year, we do a little better, as more people recognize that stroke is an emergency."

Ozarks Medical Center is a designated Level 2 Stroke Center with a comprehensive stroke team that goes into action with the 911 call. Signs of stroke are easy to remember using the acronym FAST. (Face, Arm, Speech, Time). Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech Difficulty, Time to call 911. For more information about stroke, contact the Ozarks Medical Center Neurosciences Center at 417-257-6777. To schedule a speaker for your local church or civic organization, contact OMC Public Relations Department at 417-257-6735.

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