BALLARAT stroke patients are already experiencing the benefits of a coordinated fast, off-site assessment approach.
The Victorian Stroke Telemedicine program, run by the Florey Institute, allows Ballarat Health Services Base Hospital staff a chance to access a network of Melbourne-based neurologists for on-the-spot advice outside business hours.
BHS has made 10 consultations via the virtual aid since it went live in Ballarat in September.
Consultations allow the off-site neurologist to clearly see the patient’s symptoms and assess patient details and monitored readings. The neurologist can advise the best immediate course of action. This incldues transferals to Melbourne for procedures like endovascular clot retrieval, for which the state government this week announced new protocols for all hospitals, ambulance and emergency staff to more accurately identify suitable patients.
Royal Melbourne Hospital and Monash Medical Centre have been named the two endovascular clot retrieval specialist centres to offer 24-hour best-practice treatment.
BHS clinical nurse and VST site coordinator Casey Hair said speed and accuracy was critical in treating stroke patients to save lives and avoid serious disability. While BHS has two neurologists, the Base Hospital often takes in stroke cases from across remote and regional Victoria.
“The nature of stroke means it is time dependent,” Ms Hair said.
“As a regional hospital it is really important to assess quickly and identify is we really need to transfer a patient to Melbourne because that too, adds time to treatment – especially if they’ve come to us from another regional centre first.”
Victorians will experience more than 13,000 strokes this year and 80 per cent of cases are ischemic, which is strokes caused by clots stopping blood moving through arteries in the brain.
Ms Hair said it was crucial everyone in the community understand symptoms and know their risk factors and spoke with their general practitioner about screenings or management plans.
Anyone experiencing stroke symptoms should seek urgent assistance.