Christiana Care’s Center for Heart & Vascular Health has received the Get With The Guidelines — Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award from the American Heart Association for the second consecutive year. The award recognizes Christiana Care’s commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of care by ensuring that stroke patients receive treatment according to nationally accepted guidelines.

Get With The Guidelines— Stroke guides Christiana Care staff in implementing acute and secondary prevention guidelines to improve patient care and outcomes. The program provides hospitals with a Web-based patient-management tool, best-practice discharge protocols and standing orders, along with a robust registry and real-time benchmarking capabilities to track performance. The quick and efficient use of guideline procedures improves the quality of care for stroke patients, and may reduce disability and save lives.

The award also recognizes the early detection of stroke by paramedics in the community who notify the Emergency Department to prepare the stroke alert team for a patient’s arrival. Prompt calling of 911 for emergency assistance when stroke is suspected can reduce the loss of brain tissue and save neurological function.

“Christiana Care is dedicated to making our care for stroke patients among the best in the country,” says Anthony Munson, M.D., medical director of Christiana Care’s Stroke Program. “Providing patients with exceptional stroke care requires quick and efficient treatment, because time lost is brain loss.”

In accordance with Get With The Guidelines — Stroke treatment guidelines, many stroke patients are treated soon after evaluation in the Emergency Department with aggressive therapies, including the use of clot-busting medications such as tPA and other antibiotics, and anticoagulation therapy. Their inpatient care and post-hospital treatment are optimized with anti-hypertensive medications, cholesterol-reducing drugs, and smoking-cessation counseling directed at preventing future stroke. These therapies all aim to reduce mortality and disability, and to improve the lives of stroke patients. Hospitals must adhere to these measures at a set level for a designated period to be eligible for the achievement awards.

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and serious, long-term disability in the United States. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds; someone dies of a stroke every four minutes; and 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.

In July Christiana Care earned continued Gold Seal of Approval for re-certification as a Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission. Christiana Care is a high-volume stroke center, ranking 6th in the nation for the number of cases treated. According to the latest MedPAR (Medicare) data, Christiana Care treated 1,090 cases in 2009.

Christiana Care’s Primary Stroke Center Program includes stroke evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation. The goal is helping patients to make the most complete stroke recovery possible. The staff develops an individualized stroke recovery plan and evaluates patients to identify risk factors that can lead to further problems.

“The next level of stroke certification Christiana Care is working toward is comprehensive stroke center designation from the Joint Commission, which encompasses our neurointerventional procedure options and neuro ICU care for the most complex stroke patients,” said Mary Ciechanowski MSN, RN, ACNS-BC, CCRN, stroke advanced practice nurse. Christiana Care’s Stroke Program is part of its Center for Heart & Vascular Health, the only center in the region that integrates in a single location and under one roof cardiac surgery, vascular surgery, vascular interventional radiology, cardiology and interventional nephrology.