Adherence to practice guidelines for transient ischemic attacks in an emergency department

Can J Neurol Sci. 2002 Nov;29(4):358-63. doi: 10.1017/s0317167100002225.


Objective: To evaluate the investigation and treatment of patients with a diagnosis of transient ischemic attacks (TIA) in the emergency department (ED) a tertiary care teaching hospital with a neuroscience referral program.

Methods: A chart review was conducted in the hospital. Consecutive ED charts with a diagnosis of TIA were included; each was reviewed by independent coders using a standardized data form.

Results: Two hundred and ninety-three TIA charts were reviewed; the gender ratio was 1:1 with a mean age of 66 years. Most patients (75%; 95% CI: 70, 80) were evaluated by ED physicians; the remaining patients were seen directly by referral services. The median time from symptom onset to ED arrival was 29 hours and the duration of symptoms was 4.6 hours. Most patients received CT scans (81%; 95% CI: 73, 85), complete blood counts (74%; 95% CI: 68, 79), and electrocardiograms (75%; 95% CI: 70, 80) in the ED. In 16% (95% CI: 13, 22) a carotid doppler was performed and in 26% (95% CI: 21, 31) an outpatient doppler was booked. Among those who were discharged (75%; 95% CI: 70, 80), antithrombotic medications were not prescribed to 28% (95% CI: 22, 34).

Conclusion: Practice variation exists with respect to the investigation and treatment of TIAs in this tertiary-care teaching hospital. Carotid doppler investigation and use of anti-platelet therapy for patients with TIA are suboptimal. Clinical practice guidelines and rapid assessment TIA clinics may change these results.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / diagnosis*
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / therapy*
  • Male
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Retrospective Studies