Massachusetts patients experiencing stroke could soon have access to refined treatment, triage and transport protocols based on a provision in the US state’s new budget. According to a press release from the Society of NeuroInterventional Surgery (SNIS), the provision directs the US Department of Public Health to develop a tiered system for transporting patients to hospitals that have various designations for providing stroke care.
This “lifesaving” change in policy, signed by Massachusetts governor Maura Healey earlier this month, reflects an amendment proposed by state senator Mark Montigny. Said amendment updates the previous system, which allowed emergency medical personnel to take stroke patients to the nearest hospital—regardless of their stroke severity or the ability of that hospital to treat these patients and their conditions. The Department of Health has 180 days to enact this new requirement.
By assessing stroke severity and taking patients to facilities best equipped to treat their specific types of strokes, emergency medical systems (EMS) have the potential to reduce disability and death, as well as lower the immense costs associated with long-term healthcare, the SNIS press release also states.
“This is a gamechanger for our region and a big win for stroke patients in Massachusetts, who just improved their odds significantly of surviving a severe stroke,” said SNIS president Mahesh Jayaraman (Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, USA). “Senator Montigny has long been beating this drum, realising the potential of science to save lives when it comes to stroke. Not all strokes are the same, and his persistence will help ensure that those with severe strokes are taken to facilities that can treat them right away.”
In the recent release, the SNIS notes that its Get Ahead of Stroke Campaign has “coordinated efforts nationwide” to improve stroke care through policy changes like those reflected in the Massachusetts budget. To date, approximately 40 US states have updated regional or state-wide stroke protocols to help ensure patients have access to lifesaving care like a mechanical thrombectomy.