There are several Swedish Acute Stroke Telemedicine Teams, so one of them is always available – around the clock every day of the year – to support emergency departments throughout Washington. Each team includes a board-certified neurologist, and either a physician assistant, advanced practice nurse or registered nurse.
A neurologist is a physician who has extra training and expertise in treating conditions of the nervous system (the brain, spinal cord and nerves). The neurologist on the TeleStroke team works closely with the emergency room physician to perform a virtual neurologic exam on the patient who has suffered a stroke. Although the neurologist is not in the same room as the patient, video conferencing equipment allows him or her to talk with the emergency room physician, ask the patient questions and watch the patient perform simple tasks. This evaluation is critical in determining how the stroke has affected the patient and the best treatment. The neurologist also has access to the results of tests performed in the emergency room. Together with the emergency room physician, the neurologist decides on the appropriate treatment and whether the patient should be transported to a medical center for more specialized care.
Physician Assistant, Advance Practice Nurse, Registered Nurse
These health-care providers have special training and considerable experience in caring for stroke patients. A physician assistant, advance practice nurse or registered nurse functions as an integral part of the TeleStroke team and often participates in the treatment evaluation. They are particularly well qualified to support emergency room staff members who may be less familiar with stroke patients because they see fewer of them during their normal day-to-day routines.
Partners With the Emergency Room Team
Swedish has worked closely with its partner hospitals to develop the Acute Stroke Telemedicine Program. Health-care providers on both sides of the video conference use the same evaluation and treatment protocols. This enhances communication and speeds up the process. Additionally, Swedish has trained the emergency room staff so they can begin critical treatments that can minimize or reverse a stroke’s impact even when a neurologist is not physically on site.
Two teams – one in a community emergency room and one in Seattle – focusing on one patient who needs help in a hurry. That’s technology at its best.