Retrospective audit of the acute management of stroke in two districy general hospitals in the UK
Background: There is some evidence to suggest that the standard of acute medical care provided to patients with cerebrovascular disease is a major determinant of the eventual outcome. Consequently, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) of London issues periodic guidelines to assist healthcare providers in the management of patients presenting with stroke.
Objective: An audit of the acute management of stroke in two hospitals belonging to the same health care trust in the UK.
Method: Retrospective review of 98 randomly selected case-notes of patients managed for cerebrovascular disease in two acute hospitals in the UK between April and June 2004. The pertinent guidelines of RCP (London) are highlighted while audit targets were set at 70%.
Results: 84% of patients presenting with cerebrovascular disease had a stroke rather than a TIA, anterior circulation strokes were commonest. All patients with stroke were admitted while those with TIAs were discharged on the same day but most patients with TIA were not followed up by Stroke specialists. Most CT-imaging of the head was done after 24 hours delaying the commencement of anti-platelets for patients with ischaemic stroke or
neurosurgical referral for haemorrhagic stroke. Furthermore, there was a low rate of referral for carotid ultrasound in patients with anterior circulation
strokes. Anti-platelets and statins were commenced for most patients with ischaemic stroke while diabetes was well controlled in most of them. However, ACE-inhibitors and diuretics such as indapamide were under-utilized for secondary prevention in such patients. Warfarin anti-coagulation was underutilized in patients with ischaemic stroke who had underlying chronic atrial fibrillation. While there was significant multi-disciplinary team input, dysphagia and physiotherapy assessments were delayed. Similarly, occupational therapy input and psychological assesment were omitted from the care of most patients.
Conclusion: Hospital service provision for the management of cerebrovascular disease needs to provide appropriate specialist follow up for patients with TIA, prompt radiological imaging and multi-disciplinary team input for patients with stroke. Furthermore, physicians need to utilize appropriate antihypertensives and anti-coagulation more frequently in the secondary prevention of stroke.
Keywords: Stroke, anti-platelets, anti-coagulation, carotid stenosis, secondary prevention