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Pre-hospital stroke management

CPD Hours



Critical care and emergency nursing
Clinical practice and procedures
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A stroke is a severe cerebrovascular condition that occurs as a result of impaired blood flow to the brain. It is a time-critical medical emergency.

In 2015, 6.8% of all deaths in Australia were the result of stroke. According to the Stroke Foundation, in 2017 approximately 475,000 Australians were living with the effects of a stroke.

Several strategies have been demonstrated to reduce stroke-related brain damage and long-term disability.

These include:

  • Rapid initiation of stroke management strategies in the pre-hospital setting (time is brain),
  • Acute inpatient stroke care, ideally in a dedicated stroke unit, and
  • Ongoing care and patient-centred rehabilitation.

This module considers pre-hospital management of stroke. It aims to improve stroke knowledge in order to reduce time to treatment. Ambulance officers and paramedics provide most pre-hospital care to patients who have had a stroke. However, this module is designed to give all those involved in the emergency nursing, acute care, and rehabilitative care of stroke patients an insight into optimal care provision prior to hospital admission.

This module highlights recent research and reflects changes to stroke management following the release of the Stroke Foundation's Clinical Guidelines for Stroke Management 2017. It also considers potential future developments in the pre-hospital management of a stroke.

Learning Objective

At the end of this module participants will be able to:

  • Understand the pathophysiology and classification of stroke including transient ischaemic attacks, ischaemic and haemorrhagic strokes.
  • Identify the symptoms of an acute stroke.
  • Name several conditions that mimic stroke symptoms and may complicate pre-hospital patient diagnosis and management.
  • Identify a suspected stroke using a validated stroke recognition tool.
  • Understand the steps of pre-hospital stroke management.
  • Discuss some potential options for the future of pre-hospital stroke management.

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