Time is of the Essence

"Recently, I cared for an 82-year-old grandfather who was having some trouble opening a jar of jelly. Twenty minutes later, the fork he was using fell out of his hand. Feeling tired, he lay down, and on waking four hours later, he and his wife discovered that his arm was flaccid. That’s when they called 911 and he was taken to a local hospital. The hospital wasn’t a specialized stroke center and transferred him to Yale New Haven Hospital, where I work and where he arrived two hours after his original emergency response call — and almost seven hours from when his symptoms first started. That was too late to prevent permanent disability.

As a neurologist, every single day I am left unable to help victims of stroke, despite an effective treatment in hand, simply because they arrived too late. The blood clots in the brain that cause strokes irreversibly change who we are and burden our families. Strokes strike nearly 800,000 Americans each year, killing 140,000 and at a cost to society of $34 billion annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

It doesn’t have to be this way."

Kevin Sheth, Washington Post, April 8, 2018.