Background: The introduction of intravenous thrombolysis with recombinant tissue Plasminogen Activator (rt-PA) has greatly improved the effectiveness of acute ischaemic stroke care. However, in most hospitals only 2-10% of all admitted stroke patients are treated with thrombolysis.
Aim: The purpose of this study is to identify if available protocols, training and infrastructure influence the thrombolysis rate.
Design: Cohort study of 12 hospitals in the Netherlands.
Methods: In a cohort of patients admitted with acute stroke within 24 h from onset of symptoms, data were obtained. Stroke service characteristics of 12 hospitals were acquired through structured interviews with intra- and extramural representatives, in order to asses (i) protocols, (ii) training and (iii) complexity of infrastructure. Data were analysed with multi-level logistic regression to relate the likelihood of treatment with thrombolysis to availability and completeness of protocols, training and infrastructure both outside (extramural) and inside (intramural) each centre.
Results: Overall 5515 patients were included in the study. Thrombolysis rates varied from 5.7% to 21.7%. An association was observed between thrombolysis rates and extramural training [odds ratio (OR): 1.11; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.99-1.25] and availability of intramural protocols (OR: 1.46; 95% CI: 1.12-1.91). After adjustment for hospital size and teaching vs. nonteaching hospital, these associations became stronger; extramural training [adjusted OR (aOR): 1.14; 95% CI: 1.01-1.30] and availability of intramural protocols (aOR: 1.77; 95% CI: 1.30-2.39).
Conclusions: Extramural training and intramural protocols are important tools to increase thrombolysis rates for acute ischaemic stroke in hospitals. Intramural protocols and extramural training should be aimed at all relevant professionals.