5 November 2011
STROKE is Australia’s second biggest killer, yet patients are missing out on best-practice care. There are 700 cases of death or disability each year.
The National Stroke Foundation says one in six Australians will suffer a stroke at some point, but their chances of receiving good care depends on where they live and which hospital they attend.
The foundation’s nationwide survey of stroke services, released on October 28, found almost 26,000 admissions to hospitals for stroke last year. Yet fewer than 5 per cent of stroke sufferers receive a clot-busting, or thrombolytic, drug even though studies show it provides significant benefit.
“We know care in a stroke unit and access to clot-busting drugs can mean the difference between death [or] severe disability [and] returning home to a semblance of life before stroke,” says Stroke Foundation chief Erin Lalor.
…”Access to clot-busting drugs is well below what we need to save lives and reduce disability.”
Less than 60 per cent of patients suffering a stroke received care in a specialised stroke unit, even though research shows care in such units reduces chances of death and disability by 20 per cent.
Even in hospitals that have stroke units, only 29 per cent of patients were able to gain access to the unit, the audit found.