Lifesaving medication available for stroke patients

25 February 2019

Monday, 25 February 2019

Stroke patients will now be able to be taken directly to Port Augusta Hospital to receive lifesaving medication before being transferred to the Royal Adelaide Hospital for clot removal surgery, in changes to regional stroke services.

Country Health SA Executive Director of Medical Services, Dr Hendrika Meyer, said thrombolytic therapy is the administration of medication to break down clots and remove the blockage of blood flow to the brain, which increases the chances of a positive outcome.

“The treatment will occur under the guidance of a neurologist from a metropolitan stroke unit using videoconferencing equipment through the Digital Telehealth Network that allows 24/7 acute stroke services across the state,” Dr Meyer said.

“For eligible stroke patients, thrombolytic treatment needs to occur within four and a half hours of symptoms starting which will help break down the clot and when surgery is required will ensure the patient is safely transferred into Adelaide.

“We have worked closely with SA Ambulance Service to ensure, where possible, stroke patients are taken to the most appropriate hospital to begin treatment immediately and improve patient outcomes.”

Country Health SA Clinical Director of Stroke, Associate Professor Tim Kleinig, said the ability of country clinicians to be able to administer medication onsite will save lives by allowing timely access to treatment previously not available in Port Augusta.

“Being able to access this medication with supervision from an offsite neurologist means that fewer country stroke patients will die from their stroke or be left significantly disabled,” Associate Professor Kleinig said.

“Every minute counts in stroke cases, so for patients in SA’s north having this treatment available at Port Augusta means more people will be treated and people will be treated faster.

“This means that patients living near Port Augusta will receive treatment faster, as previously they had to travel to Whyalla before receiving thrombolysis.”

Sites currently offering stroke services in regional South Australia include Mount Gambier and Districts Health Service, Whyalla Hospital and Health Service, Riverland General Hospital, and now Port Augusta Hospital.

Country stroke thrombolysing services will also be available at Port Lincoln, Port Pirie and Naracoorte in the coming months.