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Cerebrovasc Dis. 2005;19(2):96-101. Epub 2004 Dec 17.

Benefits of a prehospital stroke code system. Feasibility and efficacy in the first year of clinical practice in Barcelona, Spain.

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  • 1Acute Stroke Unit of the Department of Neurology, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.



Hospital admission delay is a main limiting factor for effective thrombolytic therapy in stroke patients. We developed a stroke code system for rapid request of emergency transportation to the hospital and a priority availability of the attending neurologist on the patient's arrival at the Emergency Department (ED).


Over a 1-year period, a 24-hour telephone hotline between the attending neurologist and the Barcelona public emergency coordination service was established. Priority 1 (P1) was defined as a patient with symptoms suggestive of acute stroke with onset of less than 3 h, in which case immediate transportation service and rapid ED reception was organized. Data from patients in the P1 group (n = 39) and patients without activation of the stroke code (P0) (n = 181) were compared.


There were significant differences between P1 and P0 groups in mean time from ED arrival to request for neurologic assessment (4.4 +/- 19.5 vs. 194.7 +/- 244.9 min, p < 0.001), from arrival to neurologic examination (12.6 +/- 21.1 vs. 225.3 +/- 258.2 min, p < 0.005), and from arrival to performance of brain CT scan (35.5 +/- 34.9 vs.120.3 +/- 143.2 min, p < 0.001), and also in the number of patients treated with thrombolytic agents (19 vs. 4.5%, p < 0.003). There were no differences between groups in the time elapsed from stroke onset to ED arrival.


Activation of the stroke code was effective in increasing the percentage of patients treated with thrombolytic drugs and also in shortening the delay from ED arrival until neurologic assessment and from ED arrival until brain CT.

Copyright (c) 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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