Scotland link for stroke diagnosis
Patients who arrive at Palmerston North Hospital with stroke symptoms may find their cases being assessed by physicians in Scotland.
A trial will start in April of a reciprocal arrangement known as Telestroke, linking the city's hospital with Wishaw Hospital in Scotland. The expertise in Scotland would be used for patients arriving "after hours" in Palmerston North and vice versa, rather than the current method of waking on-call neurologists.
"When patients need treatment, the need is urgent and clinicians must ascertain the right diagnosis and explore potential risks," MidCentral District Health Board neurology consultant Dr Anna Ranta said.
"Having this arrangement would result in multiple benefits for patients, as they are always being treated by a physician who is operating during daytime hours and not someone who is called out in the middle of the night."
During the pilot, patients will be treated via a set process.
The local hospital's medical registrar and stroke thrombolysis nurse will brief the overseas physician and then send the CT scans electronically before opening a video connection to enable a consultation.
After the overseas physician has seen and spoken with the patient via video, the physician will review all information and decide on a treatment recommendation.
Once the collaboration between hospitals begins, on-call pressures will be eased for MidCentral DHB neurologists, but they will still be available when needed by phone.
At present, it is likely there will be on average two cases a month where a call to Scotland will be made, with stroke physicians in Palmerston North expected to receive a similar number of calls.
Dr Ranta said if it was successful, the project could be extended to other health boards.