The Get With the Guidelines – Stroke program is finally turning its attention to hemorrhagic strokes after having spurred improved patient management performance from participating U.S. stroke centers since its start in 2003 with a focus on acute ischemic stroke.
The advisers who craft policy for Get With the Guidelines – Stroke (GWTG–S) are planning to launch a pilot program later in 2020 that will initiate data monitoring and quality improvement aimed at optimizing care for patients following an intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) starting at 15 U.S. stroke centers, with announcement of these 15 participating centers expected later in 2020. The program will start by targeting nine specific, evidence-based, key aspects of the acute management of ICH patients, said Kevin N. Sheth, MD, professor of neurology and neurosurgery, and chief of neurocritical care and emergency neurology at Yale University in New Haven, Conn, and a volunteer expert who is part of the team developing the ICH initiative.
According to Dr. Sheth, the nine imperatives of acute ICH care that the program plans to monitor at participating centers are:
- Obtain a baseline severity score.
- Identify etiology as spontaneous or treatment related.
- Perform coagulopathy reversal or anticoagulant reversal.
- Administer venous thromboembolism prophylaxis.
- Apply dysphagia screening within 24 hours, and delay oral intake until patient passes dysphagia screen.
- Provide patient management in a multidisciplinary stroke or ICU unit.
- Prescribe appropriate blood pressure treatment at discharge.
- Perform assessment for rehabilitation.
- Avoid prescribing corticosteroids and other contraindicated drugs.
GWTG–S is adopting these metrics for assessing the acute care of ICH patients based largely on the recommendations of an expert 2018 panel organized by the American Heart Association and American Stroke. Association that proposed a set of performance measures for the care of ICH patients. This set of performance measures served as the primary basis for designing the new GWTG–S program, along with considerations of feasibility for collecting data on these measures, Dr. Sheth said in an interview. “We hope to make it easy” for centers to collect the data needed to participate.
The existing GWTG–S program is now 17-years old, and has spread to nearly 2,400 U.S. stroke centers as of early 2020, but the time has come to broaden its reach to patients with ICH and the programs that treat these patients, Dr. Sheth said. After years of nihilism about the prospects for patients following an ICH stroke, survival rates have increased, presenting “an opportunity to optimize care, for quality improvement,” he explained. “It’s a huge shift.” ICH patients “do better than we used to think.”