AGH Comprehensive Stroke Center
The West Penn Allegheny Health System provides state-of-the-art stroke services in Western Pennsylvania delivered at the Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) Comprehensive Stroke Center (founded in 1988) and is a designated Primary Stroke Centers by the Joint Commission. Patients treated at Primary Stroke Centers benefit from advanced stroke care resulting in improved survival and reduced disability after suffering a stroke. Acute stroke care is provided by stroke neurologists (24 hour service) at AGH who provide rapid care directly at the bedside or remotely through telemedicine to treat eligible acute stroke patients with intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA) “clot busting medication.” The AGH Stroke Program is a Comprehensive Stroke Center fulfilling the criteria for a Primary Stroke Center with advanced capabilities to manage the most complex patients with stroke and intracranial hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain) providing NeuroCritical care, endovascular therapies, neurosurgical care and access to clinical trials. The AGH Stroke Comprehensive Stroke Center is a multidisciplinary team of board certified neurologists specializing in stroke, vascular neurosurgeons, and neuro-interventionalists with subspecialty expertise in stroke.
What is a Primary Stroke Center?
The Joint Commission's Certificate of Distinction for Primary Stroke Centers recognizes centers that make exceptional efforts to foster better outcomes for stroke care. Achievement of certification signifies that the services provided at a Primary Stroke Center have the critical elements to achieve long-term success in improving outcomes. The quality care we provide is effectively managed to meet the unique and specialized needs of our stroke patients.
The Joint Commission's Primary Stroke Center Certification program was developed in collaboration with the American Stroke Association and is based on the Brain Attack Coalition's "Recommendations for the Establishment of Primary Stroke Centers."
The following are major services and procedures that the Allegheny General Hospital Primary Stroke Center must have shown competence in to become certified by the Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center:
- A CT or MRI scanner must be available 24 hours each day
- Access to neurosurgical services (24 hour availability to a brain surgeon)
- Lab tests, EKG, and CT scan of patients with acute stroke must be completed within 45 minutes of being ordered
- A physician with expertise in interpreting CT or MRI studies must be available within 20 minutes of being asked to read a study (Telestroke and Interventional Neuroradiologist 24 hour availability)
- A written t-PA protocol must exist in the emergency department
- The Medical organization must have a declared and established commitment for acute stroke care)
- The hospital must have written acute stroke “clinical pathways” or “career maps”
- An acute stroke team, including a physician and at least one other healthcare professional, must be available around the clock
- Follow long-term stroke treatment outcomes, and design quality improvement activities
- Emergency staff must have completed formal training in acute stroke treatments
- The hospital must have a “stroke unit”
- There must be a designated stroke center director
- The stroke team must schedule stroke medical education sessions for stroke staff