Stroke patient's alarm choice: General practitioner or emergency medical services

T. Truc My Nguyen*, Nyika D. Kruyt, Jorien G.J. Pierik, Carine J.M. Doggen, Peter van der Lugt, Saager A.V. Ramessersing, Naomi T. Wijers, Paul J.A.M. Brouwers, Marieke J.H. Wermer, Heleen M. den Hertog

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Objectives: Stroke patients should be treated as soon as possible since the benefit of reperfusion therapies is highly time-dependent. The proportion of patients eligible for reperfusion therapy is still limited, as many patients do not immediately alarm healthcare providers. The choice of healthcare system entrance influences the time of arrival in the hospital. Therefore, we assessed differences in these choices to obtain insight for strategies to reduce time delays in acute stroke patients. Materials and Methods: Patients with suspected acute stroke admitted to the participating hospitals received a questionnaire. We assessed differences between patients who initially alarmed the general practitioner (GP) and patients who directly alarmed the emergency medical services (EMS). Additionally, we assessed regional differences and patient trajectories after medical help was sought. Results: We included 163 patients. Most patients alarmed the GP as primary healthcare provider (n = 104; 64%), and median onset-to-door times were longer in these patients (466 minutes [IQR 149–1586]) compared to patients directly alarming the EMS (n = 59; 36%) (90 minutes [IQR 45–286]). This was even more pronounced in less densely populated areas. Patients who alarmed the GP first, more often had patient delay >15 minutes, hesitated to burden healthcare providers and underestimated symptomatology. Conclusions: Our results showed that patients who alarmed the GP first instead of the EMS differed in several factors that are potentially modifiable. Strategies to achieve reduction of vital prehospital time delays and to improve patient outcome are optimizing public awareness campaigns and GP triage along with adjusting current guidelines by enabling and focusing on immediate involvement of the EMS once acute stroke is suspected.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-170
Number of pages7
JournalActa Neurologica Scandinavica
Issue number2
Early online date3 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • emergency medical services
  • general practitioner
  • patient delay
  • patient's choice
  • stroke


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