Is it beneficial to increase the provision of thrombolysis?-- a discrete-event simulation model

QJM. 2012 Jul;105(7):665-73. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/hcs036. Epub 2012 Mar 1.


Background: Although Thrombolysis has been licensed in the UK since 2003, it is still administered only to a small percentage of eligible patients.

Aim: We consider the impact of investing the impact of thrombolysis on important acute stroke services, and the effect on quality of life. The concept is illustrated using data from the Northern Ireland Stroke Service.

Design: Retrospective study.

Methods: We first present results of survival analysis utilizing length of stay (LOS) for discharge destinations, based on data from the Belfast City Hospital (BCH). None of these patients actually received thrombolysis but from those who would have been eligible, we created two initial groups, the first representing a scenario where they received thrombolysis and the second comprising those who do not receive thrombolysis. On the basis of the survival analysis, we created several subgroups based on discharge destination. We then developed a discrete event simulation (DES) model, where each group is a patient pathway within the simulation. Coxian phase type distributions were used to model the group LOS. Various scenarios were explored focusing on cost-effectiveness across hospital, community and social services had thrombolysis been administered to these patients, and the possible improvement in quality of life, should the proportion of patients who are administered thrombolysis be increased. Our aim in simulating various scenarios for this historical group of patients is to assess what the cost-effectiveness of thrombolysis would have been under different scenarios; from this we can infer the likely cost-effectiveness of future policies.

Results: The cost of thrombolysis is offset by reduction in hospital, community rehabilitation and institutional care costs, with a corresponding improvement in quality of life.

Conclusion: Our model suggests that provision of thrombolysis would produce moderate overall improvement to the service assuming current levels of funding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Drug Costs / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / economics
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitals, Public / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Econometric*
  • Northern Ireland / epidemiology
  • Quality of Life
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stroke / drug therapy*
  • Stroke / economics
  • Stroke / mortality
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / economics
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / statistics & numerical data*


  • Fibrinolytic Agents