Marin General Hospital's Stroke Program Receives Joint Commission Recertification and Get With The Guidelines®- Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award

GREENBRAE, CA — Marin General Hospital has received recertification from the Joint Commission for its stroke program, and for the second year in a row, it received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association's Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. Both programs are voluntary processes intended to elevate the standard of care for stroke programs and instill confidence in the community served.

"Studies have shown there's an extremely small window of time in which stroke treatment results in the best outcomes," said Dr. John Panagotacos, a neurologist and fellowship-trained stroke specialist at Marin General Hospital. "Both designations demonstrate the efforts of our EMS team, the emergency department staff and our imaging and laboratory services to work together to maximize speed to treatment while ensuring the highest quality care. It also recognizes the commitment of our dedicated nurses, therapists, social workers and case managers who take over once recovery and discharge begin."

To receive the Get With The Guidelines award, a hospital must achieve 85 percent or higher adherence to all indicators for two or more consecutive 12-month intervals and 75 percent or higher compliance with six of 10 Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Quality Measures. These measures include aggressive use of medications that have been shown to improve patient outcomes, such as tPA, antithrombotics, anticoagulation therapy, DVT prophylaxis, cholesterol reducing drugs and smoking cessation. All are aimed at reducing death and disability and improving the lives of stroke patients.

Hospitals receiving the award have been measured over two or more 12-month intervals on their adherence to the guidelines and stroke quality achievement indicators developed by the AHA's American Stroke Association division. These measures include aggressive use of medications, such as tPA, antithrombotics, anticoagulation therapy, DVT prophylaxis, cholesterol reducing drugs and smoking cessation, all aimed at reducing death and disability and improving the lives of stroke patients.

"Our aim is not only to save lives, but to maximize recovery," said Dr. Panagotacos. "Each one of us is well aware that every minute lost can result in brain damage. That's why we invest so much time and effort in the Get With The Guidelines program."

"Marin General Hospital is to be commended for its commitment to implementing standards of care and protocols for treating stroke patients," said Lee H. Schwamm, M.D., chair of the Get With The Guidelines National Steering Committee and director of the TeleStroke and Acute Stroke Services at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. "The full implementation of acute care and secondary prevention recommendations and guidelines is a critical step in saving the lives and improving outcomes of stroke patients."

The Get With The Guidelines-Stroke program calls for hospitals to use the time soon after a patient has had a stroke when they're most likely to be receptive to guidance as a "teachable moment." This is the ideal time to advise patients about how to manage their risk factors. The AHA/ASA provides customized patient education materials that are made available at the point of discharge, based on patients' individual risk profiles. They're written in an easy-to-understand format and are available in English and Spanish.

The Joint Commission Advanced Certification program was developed in collaboration with the American Stroke Association and launched in 2003, It is based on the Brain Attack Coalition's "Recommendations for the Establishment of Primary Stroke Centers." Certification is available only to stroke programs in Joint Commission-accredited acute care hospitals.

"The risk of stroke roughly doubles every decade after age 50," said Dr. Panagotacos. "Especially here in Marin, we face a wave of aging Baby Boomers and we know we need to be focused on continually improving the quality of stroke care"

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, 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.