UT Southwestern Medical Center has announced that it is has been certified by the Joint Commission as an Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center, the commission’s highest level certification for stroke care. There are only 67 centers in the country that have received this honor. In the State of Texas, the UT Southwestern’s Robert D. Rogers Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center is now just the second.
The certification was possible due to the center’s capabilities in treating the most complex stroke cases on a round-the-clock basis. It “assures the people of North Texas that stroke victims in this region have access to the most advanced technology, procedures, and best practices to serve stroke patients,” said Dr. Daniel Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern.
UT Southwestern treatment teams at the Robert D. Rogers Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center include neuroimaging specialists, stroke rehabilitation specialists, neurosurgeons, neurologists, and emergency medicine physicians, along with all the medication, and technology required to limit damage during or after a stroke.
“Studies show that having immediate access to medical professionals who are expertly trained to handle complex strokes – together with immediate, 24/7 access to critical imaging equipment and medications – can dramatically improve the outcome for stroke patients,” said Dr. Mark Goldberg, Chairman of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, who directs the Beatrice Menne Haggerty Center for Research on Brain Injury and Repair in Stroke.
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At the new center, doctors are using a wide range of next-generation technologies to prevent and treat strokes, including special lasers, procedures that connect arteries without stopping blood flow, as well as the use of a special stent (a thin tubular mesh) designed specifically for blood vessels in the brain. Together with a specialized CT scanner, doctors are also able to create 3D images of an organ in real time. This allows physicians to quickly diagnose heart attacks and strokes.
Specifically concerned with rural areas in Texas that do not have access to certified stroke care, the new Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Cancer has developed a tele stroke program that uses communication technology to connect their medical professionals with doctors in rural, outlying areas.
“A top priority at UT Southwestern is ensuring that our programs and procedures deliver the best possible care to each patient on a consistent basis,” said Dr. John Warner, Chief Executive Officer of UT Southwestern University Hospitals. “Patients come to us because of our world-class expertise, not only in stroke care, but in every aspect of the care they receive at our hospitals.”
The Department of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics at UT Southwestern is among the top 20 in the U.S., according to U.S. News & World Report’s annual report on Best Hospitals. Their physicians have been integral in developing the concept and standards for certifying stroke programs, helping to build some of the most advanced and effective brain aneurysm technology and procedures in healthcare today, such as the fast-acting drug tPA that rapidly dissolves blood clots.
According to a 2010 study published in the journal Stroke, the stroke centers that follow guidelines record fewer fatalities and reduce institutional care a year later, comparing with other hospitals. They also have a lower mortality rate during a nine-year follow-up.
“Better outcomes at a comprehensive stroke center”
“Patients who have a stroke can have different outcomes,” said Dr. Mark Alberts, UT Southwestern Professor and Vice Chairman of Clinical Affairs in the Department of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics and one of the authors of the stroke certification guidelines.
“This is determined in part by the size and type of the stroke. But a lot is determined by the care patients get in the acute setting and the sub-acute setting, rehabilitation, and the continuum of care. That’s why we researched what makes a difference for patients and developed these important standards. The literature shows that if you go to a , you will have better outcomes,” he noted.
Dr. Alberts also serves as co-chair of the Brain Attack Coalition, a group of professional, voluntary, and governmental entities dedicated to reducing the occurrence, disabilities, and death associated with stroke.
The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies healthcare organizations and programs in the United States. To be a certified center, it must have the dedicated resources, staff, training, and procedures needed to achieve the best outcomes for complex stroke cases. UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrating pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education, is now a Level 1 Comprehensive Stroke Center.