Laura A. Bischoff
The Columbus Dispatch
Patients suffering strokes are often taken by ambulance to the nearest hospitals, not the ones best equipped to provide life-saving care.
Senate Bill 21, which is now pending in the Ohio House Transportation Committee, would provide new state guidelines for paramedics to assess, triage and transport stroke patients.
“Transferring a patient to the nearest hospital, which is often current practice, can lead to the patient needing to be transferred to multiple hospitals, increasing the chance of death or permanent disability. Every second counts,” said state Sen. Nathan Manning, R-North Ridgeville, co-sponsor of the bill.
Jeri Ward, a former Mrs. Ohio and Dayton area resident, suffered a massive stroke in October 2018 at age 30. Testifying in favor of the bill, Ward said she was initially taken to a lower-level hospital that lacked the expertise to give her appropriate care and she was transferred 45 minutes later to a comprehensive stroke center for emergency surgery.
Ward said she suffered more brain damage because of the delayed treatment.
“With stroke, time is brain and getting a patient to the appropriate hospital to provide care without the need for additional transports will save lives and improve outcomes for patients,” she said in her written testimony.
In December 2018, Ohio law changed to recognize three tiers of hospitals: comprehensive, primary and acute-ready stroke centers. There are 11 comprehensive centers in Ohio, including University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Riverside Methodist Hospital and Mount Carmel East.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds and every four minutes someone dies of stroke. Each year, more than 795,000 people have a stroke in the U.S.
Early action is crucial for survival: patients who arrive at an ER within three hours of their first symptoms suffer less disability three months later than those who received delayed care.
FAST is an acronym to remember if you think someone is having a stroke:
F – Face: Does one side of the face droop?
A – Arms: When the person tries to raise their arms, does one drift downward?
S – Speech: Is their speech slurred or strange?
T – Time: If you see these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Take stroke victims to expert centers, not just nearest hospital, Ohio bill says
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