Is the drip-and-ship approach to delivering thrombolysis for acute ischemic stroke safe?

J Emerg Med. 2011 Aug;41(2):135-41. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2008.10.018. Epub 2009 Mar 9.


Background: The drip-and-ship method of treating stroke patients may increase the use of tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) in community hospitals.

Objective: The safety and early outcomes of patients treated with t-PA for acute ischemic stroke (AIS) by the drip-and-ship method were compared to patients directly treated at a stroke center.

Methods: The charts of all patients who were treated with intravenous (i.v.) t-PA at outside hospitals under the remote guidance of our stroke team and were then transferred to our facility were reviewed. Baseline NIHSS (National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale) scores, onset-to-treatment (OTT), and arrival-to-treatment (ATT) times were abstracted. The rates of in-hospital mortality, symptomatic hemorrhage (sICH), early excellent outcome (modified Rankin Scale [mRS] ≤ 1), and early good outcome (discharge home or to inpatient rehabilitation) were determined.

Results: One hundred sixteen patients met inclusion criteria. Eighty-four (72.4%) were treated within 3 h of symptom onset. The median estimated NIHSS score was 9.5 (range 3-27). The median OTT time was 150 min, and the median ATT was 85 min. These patients had an in-hospital mortality rate of 10.7% and sICH rate of 6%. Thirty percent of patients had an early excellent outcome and 75% were discharged to home or inpatient rehabilitation. When these outcome rates were compared with those observed in patients treated directly at our stroke center, there were no statistical differences.

Conclusions: In this small retrospective study, drip-and-ship management of delivering i.v. t-PA for AIS patients did not seem to compromise safety. However, a large prospective study comparing drip-and-ship management to routine care is needed to validate the safety of this approach to treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Aged
  • Brain Ischemia / drug therapy*
  • Brain Ischemia / mortality
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stroke / drug therapy*
  • Stroke / mortality
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / adverse effects
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / methods*
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / administration & dosage*
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / therapeutic use
  • Transportation of Patients
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator