Stroke experts at The Methodist Hospital in Houston are the first to develop and use 13 quality measures - previously considered too complicated to apply by hospitals - for a national comprehensive stroke center model, as recommended by the Brain Attack Coalition (BAC) and appearing in the Sept. 5 issue of Critical Pathways in Cardiology.

Unlike primary level stroke care, currently certified by The Joint Commission, comprehensive center recommendations do not have national certification, largely due to the challenges of establishing uniform quality measures.

"Patients rightfully expect that wherever the ambulance takes them for a stroke, there should be a basic level of quality care," said Dr. David Chiu, medical director of Methodist's Eddy Scurlock Stroke Center and article co-author. "They should also be aware that some hospitals have comprehensive stroke center capabilities to treat even the sickest stroke patient, other hospitals are primary stroke centers able to provide good quality care for the average stroke patient, and still others are not equipped to give emergency stroke treatment at all."

Under Chiu's leadership, Methodist's stroke center implemented 13 measures to demonstrate the feasibility of the BAC's recommendations. Measures include timeliness of brain imaging interpretation, timeliness and consideration of antiplatelet treatment regimens for carotid stent patients and documentation of National Institutes of Health Stroke Score. Outcomes measures included morbidity and mortality rates for stroke, cerebral aneurysm, diagnostic/therapeutic imaging, carotid endarterectomy and stent patients.

"We see too many differences in stroke care across this country. Patients and families deserve to know an institution's qualifications when their loved one is suffering a stroke and needs proper medical attention," said Joan Censullo, M.S., R.N., FAHA, project specialist with the Methodist Neurological Institute and lead author. "We've shown at Methodist that if properly implemented, national certification for the comprehensive (highest) level of stroke care can be a reality."

The BAC's guidelines for the first level of stroke care became the foundation for The Joint Commission's Primary Stroke Center certification, which The Methodist Hospital received in 2006. The BAC proposed comprehensive stroke center guidelines in 2005.

Approximately 780,000 people suffer a new or recurring stroke every year. In Harris County, where The Methodist Hospital is located, stroke mortality is twice the national average.

For more information on stroke care at Methodist, go to

About The Methodist Hospital

With 18 beds, the Eddy Scurlock Stroke Center at The Methodist Hospital in Houston is the largest dedicated stroke unit in Texas and designated a certified primary stroke center by The Joint Commission. The Center is a leader in all areas of stroke research, including diagnosis, innovative treatment, prevention, rehabilitation and recovery.

The Methodist Neurological Institute houses the practice and research activities of the departments of neurology, neurosurgery, neuroradiology, neurophysiology and physical medicine & rehabilitation at The Methodist Hospital. The mission of the NI is to advance the discovery of the origins, mechanisms and treatment of neurological disease and to provide comprehensive care for patients with disorders and injuries of the brain and spinal cord.

Methodist is primarily affiliated with Weill Cornell Medical College and New York Presbyterian Hospital. Methodist is also affiliated with the University of Houston. Ranked among the country's top centers in 14 specialties in U.S News & World Report's 2007 America's Best Hospitals issue, Methodist is ranked in more specialties than any other hospital in Texas, and is 9th in the nation for neurology and neurosurgery.

Methodist Hospital Houston
6565 Fannin St.
Houston, TX 77030
United States