Does a 'code stroke' rapid access protocol decrease door-to-needle time for thrombolysis?

Intern Med J. 2012 Dec;42(12):1316-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1445-5994.2011.02709.x.


Background: Timely administration of intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (IVtPA) for acute ischaemic stroke is associated with better clinical outcomes. Therefore, a coordinated hospital system of acute clinical assessment and neuroimaging will likely avoid delays in IV-tPA administration.

Aim: In July 2007, we implemented a 'code stroke' rapid access protocol at the Royal Melbourne Hospital with the aim of achieving rapid stroke assessment and treatment. This study investigates the quality of our 'code stroke' protocol and its impact on door-to-needle time and IV-tPA usage.

Methods: We included patients thrombolysed with IV-tPA from January 2003 to June 2007 (pre-code stroke era) and patients thrombolysed from July 2007 to December 2010 (code stroke era). Data collected were demographics, time points (stroke symptom onset, presentation to emergency department, neuroimaging and thrombolysis) and clinical outcomes (modified Rankin Scale) at discharge, symptomatic, intracerebral haemorrhage and death during admission). We compared the door-to-needle time and usage of IV-tPA between the two eras.

Results: Patient data on 98 'pre-code stroke' thrombolysed patients and 189 'code stroke' thrombolysed patients were collected. The median age was 71 (60-79), 56% were males, and the median baseline National Institute of Health Stroke Scale score was 13 ± 6.3. There was an 18-min reduction in the median door-to-needle time (90 min in 'pre-code stroke era' vs 72 min in 'code stroke era', P < 0.001). The rate of IV-tPA usage increased from 3.9% in 2004 to 17.3% in 2010.

Conclusion: Our study showed that 'code stroke' rapid access protocol decreased door-to-needle time and possibly contributed to the increased IV-tPA usage.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Clinical Protocols*
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / standards*
  • Time-to-Treatment / organization & administration*
  • Time-to-Treatment / standards
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / administration & dosage*
  • Triage


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator