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Pilot project in N.B. that improves emergency response time for stroke patients seeing early success

The Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital is pictured. (Source: Laura Brown/CTV News Atlantic) The Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital is pictured. (Source: Laura Brown/CTV News Atlantic)
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A pilot project working to improve the time it takes for potential stroke patients to receive a Computed Tomography (CT) scan after they arrive at the emergency department in New Brunswick has been successful in its early stages, according to Horizon Health.

The pilot project from Horizon Health Network and Ambulance New Brunswick has helped reduce the time to below the national standard, according to the announcement from Horizon Health on Wednesday.

Taking place at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton, the project has changed the average time from arrival to receiving a CT scan at the hospital to 14 minutes, down from an average of 67 minutes prior to the implementation of the project. The response time now beats the national standard of 15 minutes.

The vice president of Clinical Operations at Horizon Health, Greg Doiron, says getting quick access to CT scans is critical for those who may be experiencing a stroke.

“When someone is having a stroke, they only have four-and-a-half hours to receive treatment before there is permanent damage,” said Doiron. “Receiving a CT scan is only the first part in diagnosing stroke, so the significant reduction in time will greatly increase chances of survival and recovery for our patients.”

The focus of the new process is “efficiencies to improve preparedness.” Once paramedics identify someone as a potential stroke victim based on symptoms, they alert emergency department staff who then enact the stroke team and find the estimated time of arrival, which ensures imaging staff are ready to perform the CT scan as soon as possible.

“Previously, when a stroke patient came in, they were triaged as a level two patient according to the Canadian Triage Acuity Scale (CTAS),” said Doiron. “Stroke patients are level two patients, but now, staff are given specifics so they can properly prep and treat patients more quickly.”

Vice president of operations for Ambulance New Brunswick, Jean-Pierre Savoie, said he is proud to collaborate with Horizon Health on the project, which has seen much success so far.

“Every minute counts in an emergency and seeing such important improvements in rapid access to CT scans for out patients has been rewarding and encouraging,” said Savoie. “We applaud Horizon on the success of this project and look forward to continuing to work together.”

The project is slated to be expanded across other Horizon Health sites in 2024-2025.

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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