Does Emergency Medical Services Transportation Mitigate Post-stroke Discharge Disability? A Prospective Observational Study

Sudha Xirasagar, Yuqi Wu, Khosrow Heidari, Jiera Zhou, Meng han Tsai, James W. Hardin, Robert Wronski, Dana Hurley, Edward C. Jauch, Souvik Sen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Whether emergency medical services (EMS) transport improves disability outcomes compared with other transport among acute ischemic stroke (AIS) patients is unknown. Objective: To study severity-adjusted associations of hospital arrival mode (EMS vs. other transport) with in-hospital and discharge disability outcomes. Design: Prospective observational study. Participants: AIS patients discharged April 2016 to October 2017 from a safety-net hospital in South Carolina. Main Measures: National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) change at discharge (admission NIHSS score minus discharge NIHSS, continuous variable), 24-h NIHSS change (attaining high improvement, admission NIHSS minus 24-h NIHSS being 75th percentile or higher), door to neuroimaging (DTI) time, and IV alteplase receipt. NIHSS change was assessed within stroke severity groups, mild, moderate, and severe (admission NIHSS 0–5, 6–14, and ≥ 15, respectively). Key Results: Of 1168 patients, 838 were study-eligible (52% male, 52.4% Black, 72.2% EMS arrivals, 56.6% mild strokes). Severe and moderate stroke patients were more likely than mild stroke patients to use EMS (adjusted odds ratios, AOR [95% CI] 11.7 [5.0, 27.4] and 4.0 [2.6, 6.3], respectively). EMS arrival was associated with shorter DTI time (adjusted difference − 88.4 min) and higher likelihood of alteplase administration (AOR 5.3 [2.5, 11.4]), both key mediating variables in disability outcomes. High 24-h NIHSS improvement was more likely for EMS arrivals vs. other arrivals among moderate strokes (AOR 3.4 [1.1, 10.9]) and severe strokes (AOR > 999). EMS arrivals had substantially higher NIHSS improvement at discharge within the severe stroke group (adjusted NIHSS change at discharge, 5.9 points higher, p = 0.01). Alteplase recipients showed higher discharge NIHSS improvement than non-recipients (by 2.8 and 1.9 points among severe and moderate strokes, respectively; p = 0.01, 0.02). Conclusions: The findings offer evidence for including stroke education as a standard of care in the primary care management of patients with stroke-risk comorbidities/lifestyle in order to minimize post-stroke disability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3173-3180
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of General Internal Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • 24-h disability improvement
  • acute ischemic stroke
  • discharge disability outcome
  • emergency medical services use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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