Long-term implementation of a prehospital severity scale for EMS triage of acute stroke: a real-world experience

J Neurointerv Surg. 2020 Jan;12(1):19-24. doi: 10.1136/neurintsurg-2019-014997. Epub 2019 Jul 2.


Background: Data on the implementation of prehospital large vessel occlusion (LVO) scales to identify and triage patients with acute ischemic stroke (AIS) in the field are limited, with the majority of studies occurring outside the USA.

Objective: To report our long-term experience of a US countywide emergency medical services (EMS) acute stroke triage protocol using the Rapid Arterial oCclusion Evaluation (RACE) score.

Methods: Our prospective database was used to identify all consecutive patients triaged within Lucas County, Ohio by the EMS with (1) a RACE score ≥5, taken directly to an endovascular capable center (ECC) as RACE-alerts (RA) and (2) a RACE score <5, taken to the nearest hospital as stroke-alerts (SA). Baseline demographics, RACE score, time metrics, final diagnosis, treatments, and clinical and angiographic outcomes were captured. The sensitivity and specificity for patients with a RACE score ≥5 with LVO, eligible for mechanical thrombectomy (MT), were calculated.

Results: Between July 2015 and June 2018, 492 RA and 1147 SA were triaged within our five-hospital network. Of the RA, 37% had AIS secondary to LVOs. Of the 492 RA and 1147 SA, 125 (25.4%) and 38 (3.3%), respectively, underwent MT (OR=9.9; 95% CI 6.8 to 14.6; p<0.0001). Median times from onset-to-ECC arrival (74 vs 167 min, p=0.03) and dispatch-to-ECC arrival (31 vs 46 min, p=0.0002) were shorter in the RA-MT than in the SA-MT cohort. A RACE cut-off point ≥5 showed a sensitivity and specificity of 0.77 and 0.75 for detection of patients with LVO eligible for MT, respectively.

Conclusions: We have demonstrated the long-term feasibility of a countywide EMS-based prehospital triage protocol using the RACE Scale within our hospital network.

Keywords: intervention; stroke; thrombectomy.

Publication types

  • Pragmatic Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Ischemia / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Ischemia / epidemiology
  • Brain Ischemia / surgery*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods
  • Emergency Medical Services / trends*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ohio / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Stroke / diagnostic imaging
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • Stroke / surgery*
  • Thrombectomy / methods
  • Thrombectomy / trends*
  • Time Factors
  • Triage / methods
  • Triage / trends*