Pictured here: Michael Zwank, MD, Hudson Hospital Emergency Center & Regions Hospital, Mary Brooks, RN, Hudson Hospital Emergency Center and Jessica Runyon, RN Hudson Hospital Emergency Center (mock patient), connect to the Regions Burn Center using the new Telemedicine system. In the matter of seconds, a connection is made for Hudson medical staff to consult with Regions medical staff for critical care such as burns, trauma and stroke patients.
Hudson Hospital Emergency Center nursing staff knows that when someone is having a stroke every minute counts. “Our new Telemedicine capabilities at Hudson Hospital Emergency Center give us the ability to talk directly to a neurologist face to face to help expedite the care for a recent stroke patient. The telemedicine also gives us the opportunity to talk face to face with a burn surgeon, trauma surgeon and ER physician at Regions Hospital,” says Deb Raptis, RN, manager, Emergency Center at Hudson Hospital & Clinic. “The technology allows the emergency physician to consult with a specialist to ensure we are giving the most advanced care possible. The patient is able to see the consulting physician and have the ability to ask any questions they have. Family can also be in the room and see the consulting physician and have their questions answered too. Being face to face, through the special cameras, is such a reassuring aspect of care to the patients and families.”
Recently, a Hudson patient presented at the ER with classic stroke symptoms: a drooping smile, sentences slurring and he couldn’t move his left arm. Doctors at Hudson’s ER needed to determine if the stroke was caused by a lack of blood flow (ischemic stroke) or by a ruptured blood vessel (hemorrhage). If it was an ischemic stroke, the most common kind, the patient would need a clot-busting drug. For the best chance of recovery, he needed to get it within about three hours. If the stroke were the result of a hemorrhage, clot-busting drugs would make it worse; so it was critical that a neurologist correctly diagnose what was happening in his brain.
Dr. Kathryn Katzung, an emergency medicine physician at Hudson, ordered a CT scan with an intravenous dye to help highlight any areas of the brain that might be affected. A radiologist read the image. Now, the patient needed a face-to-face evaluation with a neurologist. To make the situation more challenging, it was early Saturday afternoon and the nearest available neurologist was at Regions Hospital, twenty miles away.
Thanks to a new telemedicine pilot program, the patient didn’t need to wait for an ambulance to take him to Regions where Dr. Ellie Choi, a vascular neurologist, was on call. Using cameras and monitors at both hospitals, she was able to evaluate the patient and talk to Ann about treatment options. With Dr. Choi’s assistance, Dr. Katzung was able to begin administering clot-busting medication through an IV in the patient’s vein just one and a half hours after arriving in the ER. While the hour-long procedure was underway, caregivers made arrangements for an emergency transfer to Regions. He arrived at Regions intensive care unit and by 7 p.m. was resting comfortably.
The next day, almost all of his stroke symptoms were gone and the patient was able to walk out of the hospital on his own to return home with his wife.
Act FAST if you see signs of a stroke:
- Facial drooping , numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg,
- Arm, face or leg numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body;
- Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Speech difficulties, confusion or trouble understanding
- Loss of vision or double vision
- Severe headache
- Time is critical; go to the hospital or call 9-1-1