Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Stroke Team organized a symposium to mark World Stroke Day on 29 October. More than 300 delegates attended the event, including Hanan Al Kuwari PhD, Managing Director of HMC, and key leaders involved in the delivery of care for stroke patients.
HMC has been actively working to improve the care for stroke patients in Qatar. The opening of a dedicated Stroke Ward at Hamad General Hospital (HGH) in March 2014 has played a key role in these improvements. A multi-disciplinary team consisting of stroke neurologists, rehabilitation physicians, stroke nurses, allied health professionals, stroke coordinators and clinical nurse specialists has also been formed to provide specialist care.
Speakers at the forum explained that stroke is one of the leading causes of mortality and the number one cause of chronic disability in the world. Due to the high prevalence in Qatar’s population of many risk factors for stroke – including diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension and inactivity – the incidence of stroke is high.
“Fast and specialized medical intervention is the key to successful treatment for stroke patients. The sooner treatment is given to the patient, the better the chance that brain cells can be protected. We have worked hard as a team to develop the specialist Stroke Ward and to ensure patients are treated as quickly and effectively as possible. The processes we have implemented to date have already led to significant improvements in the care of stroke patients,” said Dr. Naveed Akhtar, Director of the Stroke Ward.
Recent improvements in stroke care at HMC include:
• The average length of stay (LOS) for stroke patients has been continuously declining this year. In January the average LOS was 12 days, a figure that has fallen to just eight days. The shorter LOS demonstrates the effective nature of the care being given. Patients benefit greatly from being discharged as early as possible, when clinically appropriate, to continue their recovery at home with ongoing support from the care teams.
• The percentage of patients receiving Thrombolysis treatment (which must be administered within 4.5 hours of the onset of symptoms) has doubled since 2013. Thrombolysis is a very effective treatment that can greatly increase a stroke patient’s chances of making a full recovery, but this must be given within the 4.5 hour timeframe.
The improvements have been achieved through a multi-disciplinary approach, as Professor Ashfaq Shuaib, Director of HMC’s Neurosciences Institute, explains: “Within HMC we have a number of service areas working together with one common goal; to deliver the safest, most effective and most compassionate care for stroke patients in Qatar. HMC’s Ambulance Service has played a vital role in delivering pre-hospital care to patients and ensuring they arrive as quickly as possible at the hospital. This role cannot be overestimated, as for stroke patients ‘Time is Brain’, meaning the faster treatment can be given following a stroke, the better the chances of a full recovery.”
“Our radiology teams utilize state-of-the-art imaging technology to capture high quality scans, ensuring advanced diagnosis, while our specialized nursing and allied health care services provide high standards of care to maximize patient outcomes. Additionally, our rehabilitation teams provide specialist care for stroke patients while they recover.”
Professor Ashfaq highlights the need for stroke patients to get to hospital as quickly as possible, so treatment can begin: “If you suspect that you, or someone around you, have suffered a stroke, call 999 immediately so our care teams can respond. The sooner you act from the onset of symptoms, the better the chance that medical intervention can protect you.”
The development of the Stroke Ward is part of HMC’s recently formed Neurosciences Institute. The Institute addresses the most common neurological and neuropsychiatric ailments seen in Qatar, such as stroke, epilepsy and traumatic brain injury. A Stroke Registry has also been set up to track and improve the outcomes of patients. The work of the Neurosciences Institute will advance the care of patients by embedding research and education into everyday clinical practice.
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Corporate Communications Department
Hamad Medical Corporation