Introduction: Specialised care in referral centres, admission to stroke units and thrombolysis treatment have proved to be effective therapeutic tools in the treatment of patients with acute stroke. But not all patients have access to this kind of treatment, and this depends largely on territorial division and organisation. Establishing stroke code systems allows swift access to cerebrovascular pathology referral centres, which can offer specialised diagnostic and therapeutic techniques, for all the patients with an acute stroke within a particular geographic area. These systems require coordination among the medical emergency services and hospitals in the area, and consist in allowing patients with a suspected stroke to alert the emergency services and to be transferred urgently to the nearest referral centre. The fact that the medical emergency systems take patients straight to the referral centre means they receive care earlier, they have more chance of being given thrombolysis therapies and, above all, it results in a better clinical course in comparison to being taken for primary emergency care in community health centres and then being transferred.
Development: Drawing on their four years' experience in the region of Barcelones Nord i Maresme, in this work the authors review the current limitations of specialised care and the benefits to be gained by setting up stroke code systems.