On The Quick
UCLA Health Mobile Stroke Unit
Rolling out service in L.A. County
Few medical emergencies are more time-sensitive than stroke, where minutes can make the difference between full recovery and permanent impairment. UCLA Health is now rolling out a mobile stroke unit that can begin treatment before the patient even reaches a hospital.
Residents of Santa Monica — and soon, other parts of Los Angeles County — can now benefit from a high-tech approach to stroke treatment: the mobile stroke unit (MSU). Pioneered at Berlin’s Charité Universitätsmedizin in 2011, the MSU combines a CT scanner and stroke treatment laboratory in a fully equipped ambulance.
This sophisticated equipment allows the onboard stroke response team, led by a neurologist and a critical care transport nurse, to diagnose the type of stroke and begin appropriate treatment while still en route to a stroke center.
“With the UCLA Health Mobile Stroke Unit, we are bringing the hospital to the patient instead of the patient to the hospital, in order to save as much brain as possible,” explains UCLA Comprehensive Stroke Center Director Jeffrey Saver, M.D. The 30-month MSU pilot program, the first of its kind on the West Coast, is an initiative of the UCLA Arline and Henry Gluck Stroke Rescue Program, which recently received additional funding from L.A. County to expand operation beyond Santa Monica.
While MSUs are an exciting development in stroke care, the costs are high: around $1 million to purchase each unit and about $500,000 to run it for a year. Also, clinical evidence of the benefits to patient outcomes remains limited. (Gathering additional data is one of the goals of the UCLA Health pilot program.) There also remain some significant technical hurdles.
Although UCLA Health hopes to switch from a ride-along neurologist to a less resource-intensive telehealth model where CT scans and labs are transmitted to a remote stroke center for analysis, the sheer size of the scan data — about 1.7 GB — may make that easier said than done.
This article is from workingnurse.com.