Having a timely consult with a neurologist can help beat the clock for many stroke cases. At Virginia Mason Memorial, we're using a conference link to the experts at neurological experts at Virginia Mason Health System in Seattle to provide diagnosis for complex stroke cases brought into our Emergency Department. With the help of this secure network, members of the Stroke Team are able to quickly perform 'virtual' bedside neurological evaluations that allow them to examine patients, review brain images and collaborate with our emergency physicians to select the best acute stroke treatment.
While some patients with complex stroke and other acute healthcare needs may be transferred to Seattle for a higher level of care, telemedicine-based technology ensures that most patients receive around-the-clock access to specialists without traveling away from home.
How the TeleStroke Program Works
The Virginia Mason Telestroke team is available 24/7 for consult when a stroke patient arrives in the Emergency Department at the Hospital. If needed, emergency physicians contact members of the team - which include a stroke team physician as well as specially trained stroke nurses, practitioners, physician assistants or registered nurses. Telestroke team members can log in on their home or office computers to complete a TeleStroke examination and collaborate on the best medical action for the patient.
The most common rescue therapy that the stroke team use is an FDA-approved medicine called tissue plasminogen activator or tPA. This medicine can reverse the devastating effects of stroke for some patients if it is administered within three hours of the onset of a stroke. The key to the successful use of tPA - or other clot-busting thrombolytic drugs - lies in rapid and correct diagnosis; within 3 hours of onset symptoms. In stroke care, "Time is Brain", because as every minute passes, more brain cells die if the blood clot causing the stroke is not destroyed. In complex cases, a TeleStroke consultation and further diagnosis helps to ensure that in-hospital and post-acute interventions are in place to prevent recurrent stroke and future disability.