Once Again, Marin General Hospital’s Stroke Program Receives Get With The Guidelines®

GREENBRAE, CA — The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association has once again given Marin General Hospital the Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. The voluntary process is intended to elevate the standard of care for stroke programs and instill confidence in the community served. The hospital also is certified by the Joint Commission for its stroke program.

Strokes affect 795,000 Americans annually, and 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 and someone dies of a stroke every four minutes. Marin General Hospital is the only certified primary stroke center in Marin that can treat all types of stroke on site.

“An experienced stroke team significantly increases the chance of a better outcome,” says Dr. John Panagotacos, a neurologist and fellowship-trained stroke specialist at Marin General Hospital. "There's a limited time period to assess the patient, diagnose a stroke, and determine the optimal treatment. Every minute counts, and as demonstrated by this designation, our entire EMS team, emergency department staff and our imaging and laboratory services are committed to working together to the fastest time to treatment while delivering the highest quality care."

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.

 “We take pride in going beyond the immediate treatment of stroke.  After the acute phase of the stroke, we work to not only maintain function but to maximize recovery,” says Dr. Panagotacos. "Our dedicated nurses, therapists, social workers and case managers make sure the patient gets appropriate therapy as quickly as possible to speed recovery."

“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.

“It is critical that patients experiencing a stroke get care as quickly as possible,” says Dr. Panagotacos. “No one should have to cross the bridge to get care, even in the most complex cases.  That’s why we are committed to being able to treat every type of stroke on site, and why we voluntarily undergo stroke center recertification as often as possible.”

About Get With The Guidelines

Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke is the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s hospital-based quality improvement program that empowers healthcare teams to save lives and reduce healthcare costs by helping hospitals follow evidence-based guidelines and recommendations.  For more information, visit heart.org/quality.