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Telemedicine leads to better stroke treatment decisions
Date:8/2/2008

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Meyer added that this proof that telemedicine results in better treatment decisions than telephone consultations could lead to some immediate changes in how stroke patients in remote areas are evaluated and treated.

"Rural physicians can now provide much needed specialty care to their patients via telemedicine," said George Rodriguez, M.D., of El Centro Regional Medical Center in California, a rural community partner with UC San Diego in its STRokE DOC program and a participating spoke hospital in the clinical trial. "This is welcome news for rural healthcare providers in the U.S."

The UC San Diego researchers say that the next step is a study to evaluate the long-term health outcomes of patients. What this study tells us is that we need a bigger trial to determine the difference if any in clinical outcomes for these patients.

The reliability of telemedicine had already been established, as reported in the journal Neurology in 2005, where the UC San Diego team studied Internet-based remote video evaluations of acute stroke patients.

In the current study, the researchers had initially planned a four-year, 400-patient study. However, the studys steering committee halted the trial after an analysis clearly showed that one group was superior to the other based on preliminary data of 222 patients. After final analysis the telemedicine group was noted to be far superior for correct decision- making. When adjusted for initial stroke severity, there was no difference in the number of cases resulting in brain hemorrhage, death, or long- term outcomes between the telemedicine or telephone groups.


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Contact: Debra Kain
ddkain@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

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