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3 Hospitals First to Receive Comprehensive Stroke Designation

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, November 19, 2012

Three hospitals are the first in the country to receive The Joint Commission's long-awaited "comprehensive" stroke center designation, a high-performance credential that could result in new paramedic protocols that divert some stroke patients from other hospitals.

Stanford Hospital & Clinics in Palo Alto, CA, was the first to receive clearance two weeks ago, followed by OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, IL, and Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, PA, says M.J. Hampel, senior associate director for The Joint Commission's disease-specific care certification. More than 50 hospitals have requested the designation, but not all were able to pass its numerous and strict hurdles, Hampel told HealthLeaders Media.

The comprehensive review process is much more extensive and lengthy, requiring much more documentation, than what is required for the three-year accreditation survey process or what the organization now requires for the 1,000 hospitals in the nation that have received the lesser designation as primary stroke centers, she says.

Stanford's stroke team, as well as its executives, were elated when they heard the news, says Gregory Albers, MD, director of the Stanford Stroke Center. "The reviewers said in their closing meeting that they had been to a number of hospitals and found between 15 and 22 violations that prevented them from being certified, and we had zero.

"It was like a dream to hear that, because these [TJC] reviewers are not warm and fuzzy people. They asked probing questions, like, What is our procedure for handing off a patient from the emergency room to the cath lab and from the cath lab to the ICU. And then they asked multiple people the same thing, to look for consistency. They wanted call schedules for everything possible to prove that we know who's on call for a transcranial doppler at 2 a.m. on a Saturday night, and this coming Saturday," he says.

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