Among patients assessed by the emergency medical service (EMS) and hospitalized with a final diagnosis of stroke, to describe delays, patient characteristics, actions taken and outcome in relation to the early recognition of stroke by the EMS clinician.
Patients admitted to any of six stroke units in Region Västra Götaland, Sweden, with a final diagnosis of stroke from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2015 were included. Data on follow-up were retrieved from the Swedish Stroke Register.
In all, 5467 patients were included. Stroke was recognized by the EMS clinician in 4396 cases (80.4%). The mean difference in the time from dialling 112 until arrival at the stroke unit was 556 min shorter when stroke was recognized, while the mean difference in the time from dialling 112 until a preliminary report from a computed tomography (CT) scan was 219 min shorter as compared with the patients in whom stroke was not recognized. After adjustment for age, sex, neurological deficits and coma, a lack of suspicion of stroke on EMS arrival was associated with an increased risk of death during three months of follow-up (odds ratio 1.66; 95% confidence interval 1.19–2.32; p = .003).
Among patients with a stroke, more than 80% were recognized by the EMS clinician. Early recognition of stroke was associated with a markedly shorter time until arrival at the stroke unit and until the preliminary report of a CT scan. A lack of early stroke recognition was associated with an increased risk of death.