Physician's Office Hours Affect Time to Stroke Treatment

Delay in assessment for those who have a stroke outside office hours
By Jane Parry
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Sept. 19 (HealthDay News) -- People who experience a transient ischemic attack or a minor stroke outside their primary physician's office hours wait longer before seeking treatment than those who have a stroke during general practice opening hours, according to a report published online Sept. 18 in BMJ.

Daniel S. Lasserson, of the University of Oxford in Oxford, U.K., and colleagues analyzed data on 91,000 patients from nine general practices in the United Kingdom who were followed-up from April 2002 to March 2006. During this time, 359 patients had a transient ischemic attack and 434 had a minor stroke.

For those who had an event during surgery hours, the median time to call a primary physician was four hours, the researchers report. However, those who had an event outside office hours waited a median 12 hours to seek medical attention, and the majority of those who waited to see their primary care physician waited 24.8 hours to contact them, the investigators found.

"A primary care center open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. seven days a week would have offered cover to 73 patients who waited until surgery hours to call their general practitioner, reducing median delay from 50.1 hours to 4.0 hours in that group," the authors write. "Improved access to primary care and public education about the need for emergency care are required if the relevant targets in the national stroke strategy are to be met."

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