Stroke pathways will speed treatment

21:34, Jul 03 2014

A new assessment and treatment pathway will help stroke sufferers get treatment faster in Marlborough.

St John, the Nelson Marlborough and West Coast district health boards have worked together to develop a fast track pathway for suspected stroke patients.

As soon as St John ambulance officers in Marlborough suspect that a patient has suffered a stroke, they will alert the Emergency Department in Wairau Hospital who will then be ready to receive the patient on arrival and put priority on their assessment and treatment.

St John Marlborough territory manager Murray Neal said that if a stroke was suspected, and the patient could be delivered to hospital within 3.5 hours of developing symptoms, they were classified as status 2, or serious.

"It's important that they get to definitive treatment as quickly as possible, and that might mean utilising air transport where appropriate, including a rescue helicopter."

St John district operations Tasman manager James McMeekin said the stroke pathway was vitally important.


Stroke was the third leading cause of death in New Zealand, and 65,000 New Zealanders required significant daily care after suffering a stroke, he said.

The pathway begins with ambulance officers assessing a suspected stroke sufferer.

"If a stroke is suspected, paramedics perform a FAST - face, arms, speech, time - test. This is a simple examination that is reliable at detecting stroke. As a part of this test, paramedics will determine the time that stroke symptoms started.

Nelson Marlborough District Health Board stroke pathway clinical lead Dr Suzanne Busch said prioritising patients for transfer to hospital was crucial for those who would qualify for clot-busting treatment.

"Many people with stroke are not treated with this medication as they arrive too late for it to be used. Anything that can be done to improve the time it takes for stroke sufferers to get to hospital is great."

The Marlborough Express