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Med J Aust. 2003 Apr 7;178(7):318-23.

Evidence-based care and outcomes of acute stroke managed in hospital specialty units.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Flinders University, Bedford Park, SA.



To assess the use of evidence-based investigations and treatments in patients with acute stroke in selected Australian hospitals and to compare management and outcomes between stroke and other types of hospital specialty unit.


Retrospective, multicentre audit of hospital case files.


Eight metropolitan tertiary-care hospitals from five Australian States.


300 consecutive patients from each hospital admitted between 17 September 1999 and 23 May 2001 and having a discharge diagnosis of stroke or transient ischaemic attack.


Use of investigations and treatments supported by best available evidence; comparison of management and outcomes between stroke, neurology, general medical and geriatric units.


2383 patients were audited (median age, 72.7 years; 52% men); 72% had ischaemic events, and 28% haemorrhagic events. Use of investigations and treatments varied between hospitals and types of unit. Stroke units or teams cared directly for 23% of patients (range across hospitals, 0-100%). Although 47% of patients with ischaemic events presented within 3 hours of symptom onset (when thrombolysis might provide benefit), only nine (2%) received thrombolysis. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors were given to 28% of survivors at discharge (range, 14%-38%). Stroke units were more likely to use diagnostic tests, while neurology units were more likely to prescribe heparin acutely for patients with ischaemic stroke (not recommended for patients in general), and geriatric units were less likely to discharge patients with atrial fibrillation on anticoagulation therapy. Outcomes also varied significantly between types of unit. In-hospital survival rates were 90% (stroke units), 91% (neurological units), 82% (general medical units) and 79% (geriatric units) (P < 0.001). Stroke units and neurological units sent more patients home than the other units. Stroke units also sent fewer patients to rehabilitation and had longer mean length of stay.


Acute stroke care varies between Australian tertiary-care hospitals and types of specialty unit, with suboptimal use of many evidence-based interventions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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