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Specialized Stroke Centers Deliver on the Weekends
Date:8/25/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug. 25 (HealthDay News) -- At many hospitals, stroke patients face higher odds of dying if they're admitted over the weekend rather than a weekday, but a new study finds equally good results for patients treated at comprehensive stroke centers.

New Jersey researchers found that the so-called "weekend effect" -- an increased risk of death associated with Saturday and Sunday admissions -- evaporated for stroke patients treated at state-certified comprehensive stroke centers.

"Not all hospitals are created equal," said lead researcher Dr. James McKinney, an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick. "Centers that specialize in [complex] stroke are going to have better outcomes," he said.

In these specialized centers, there was no difference in deaths among patients admitted over the weekend or during the week, McKinney said.

For the study, published in the Aug. 25 online edition of Stroke, McKinney's team looked at the medical records of more than 134,000 stroke patients seen at 88 acute care private hospitals between 1997 and 2007. These hospitals included 12 comprehensive stroke centers, 43 primary stroke centers and 33 non-stroke hospitals. The researchers limited their analysis to patients treated for their first ischemic stroke (a stroke caused by a blockage in blood to the brain).

Hospitals certified by the state of New Jersey as comprehensive or primary stroke centers are designed to provide emergency care to patients with acute stroke symptoms, but only comprehensive stroke centers are equipped to offer specialized care for complex strokes.

"Comprehensive stroke centers have 24/7 neurosurgical coverage, 24/7 neuroradiology coverage and are involved in advanced stroke treatment and in clinical research," McKinney said.

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