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New Stroke Approach

Harris Methodist Northwest Hospital, in conjunction with Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital, has implemented comprehensive stroke guidelines to improve the outcomes for stroke patients in and near Northwest Tarrant County.

When a stroke is underway, quick treatment can prevent further brain damage. Fortunately, Harris Methodist Northwest Hospital has taken action by setting stroke guidelines in place. When a suspected stroke patient enters the hospital:

1. A formal assessment is completed to establish severity of stroke symptoms.

2. Treatment is then based upon the findings of a computed tomography (CT) scan, which can determine if the stroke was caused by bleeding in the brain or a blocked artery. All treatment decisions are made by the Harris Methodist Northwest Hospital physician and the Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital neurologist working together in cooperation. One of the keys to treatment is knowing the exact time the patient was last “normal” because all treatment decisions are based off this time.

3. If a stroke is less than three hours old, a tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), also known as a clot buster, may be administered intravenously. However, if it has been three to six hours, there are two possible procedures that may require the patient to be transferred to Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital: a MERCI procedure, in which an intravenous tube removes the clot in the artery, and an intra-arterial tPA.

For those patients who don’t qualify for any of these treatments, the goal is to prevent another stroke. They are admitted to Harris Methodist Northwest Hospital using the same stroke care protocols developed by the neurologists at Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital. The patient is assessed for risk factors for future strokes, medications are adjusted and rehabilitation is started during their hospital stay.

4. Patients are then transferred to Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital for additional care depending on the severity of their condition.

“By having this stroke protocol set in place, we are showing our commitment to the community by making advanced medical practices available,” says Robyn Owens, R.N., B.S.N., nurse manager at Harris Methodist Northwest Hospital.

To learn more about medical services available at Harris Methodist Northwest Hospital, visit www.texashealth.org/hmnw. (Summer 2008)

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