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Crit Pathw Cardiol. 2007 Mar;6(1):18-23.

Critical pathways for the management of stroke and intracerebral hemorrhage: a survey of US hospitals.

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Department of Medical Affairs, Novo Nordisk Inc, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA.



Thirty-day mortality rates in patients with spontaneous intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) range from 35% to 50%, with only 10-20% of the survivors regaining functional independence. This high mortality and morbidity argues for the optimization of emergency medical services (EMS), emergency department (ED), and in-patient treatment paradigms. With the development of interventional strategies for ICH, both pharmacologic and surgical, time to treatment will be critical to improving outcomes. Similar to acute ischemic stroke care, proper preparation and role definition will be critical for efficient evaluation and treatment. We studied the existence and structure of ICH management protocols in US hospitals.


A national survey of Emergency Medicine physicians was conducted to gather information regarding the existence of stroke and ICH treatment protocols at their institutions.


A clearly established pathway for the management of ischemic stroke exists in most hospitals (78%). By contrast, only 30% of hospitals have a clearly defined pathway for ICH. Thus, while most hospitals are able to perform rapid computed tomography (CT) scans to diagnose ICH, the management of these patients post-CT is more fragmented and variable. Few hospitals have comprehensive protocols that include treatment policies for raised intracranial pressure or formal policies for the transfer of patients to centers with neurocritical care/neurosurgical resources.


Integration of ICH critical pathways into stroke protocols could potentially improve the high mortality and disability associated with this condition and might facilitate ongoing studies of ICH-specific interventions. With stroke neurologists and neurocritical care specialists showing an increasing interest in ICH management, development of critical pathways may allow for a standardized approach to best treatment practices within institutions and networks as evidence grows for new treatments and management strategies. This may also allow a redefinition of the roles of team members, including ED and critical care physicians, neurologists, and neurosurgeons.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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