Background: Since 2000, systemic thrombolysis has been the only approved curative and causal treatment for acute ischemic stroke. In 2009, the guidelines of the German Society for Neurology were updated and the therapeutic window for performing thrombolysis was extended. The implementation of new therapies is influenced by many factors. We analyzed the factors at the organizational level that influence the implementation of thrombolysis in stroke patients.
Methods: The data published by the majority of German hospitals in their structured quality reports was assessed. We calculated a regression model in order to measure the influence of hospital/department-level characteristics (e.g., teaching status, ownership, location, and number of hospital beds) on the implementation of thrombolysis in 2006 (this is the earliest point in time that can be analyzed on this data basis). In order to measure the effect of the guideline update in 2009 on the thrombolysis rate (TR) change between 2008 and 2010, we performed a Wilcoxon signed-rank test and utilized a regression model.
Results: In 2006, 61.5% of a total of 286 neurology departments performed systemic thrombolysis to treat ischemic strokes. The influencing factors for the use of systemic thrombolysis in 2006 were the existence of a stroke unit (+) and a hospital size of between 500 and 1,000 beds (-). A significant increase of the mean departmental TR (thrombolysis rate) from 6.7% to 9.2% between 2008 and 2010 was observed after the guideline update in 2009. For the departments performing thrombolysis in 2008 and 2010, our analysis could not show any additional influencing factors on a structural level that would explain the TR rise during the period 2008-2010.
Conclusions: Because ischemic stroke patients benefit from systemic thrombolysis, it is necessary to examine possible barriers at the organizational level that hinder the implementation. Our data shows that, organizational factors have an influence on the implementation of thrombolysis. However, the recent guideline update resulted in a TR rise that occurred at all hospitals, regardless of the measured structural conditions, as our analysis could not identify any structural factors that might have influenced the TR after the guideline update.