Radiology Assistants Have A New Role In Stroke Patients

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A new change was found to improve the role of radiology assistants, tried at the Norfolk and Norwich ct_scan_deviceUniversity Hospital (NNUH), in UK.  The new change means that radiology assistants are to help in preparing patients for radiology scans and look after them. The previous task was already carried out by radiographers. This new change provides radiographers with more time to focus on scanning patients. The new change resulted in quicker scanning with faster diagnosis and then the beginning of treatment of stroke patients within the crucial three-hour time limit.

The initiative of the new change was started by radiographer Chris West, lead NNUH radiographer for CT scanning, and consultant stroke physician Dr. Kneale Metcalf, who said that the stroke services were designed and developed based on hyper-acute healthcare, which has allowed earlier CT scanning and thrombolysis for ischemic stroke patients. The unit is now carrying out twice as many scans within the first 24 hours, up from 40% to 80%. Dr. Metcalf said "In patients needing very urgent scans, within the first half an hour of coming through the door, we have put in place processes to do that and we are doing it robustly, 24 hours a day. Interacting with people on the ground within the CT scanning room allows us to arrange urgent scans; consequently, patient care is definitely better."

The Radiology and Improving Stroke Services video forms part of the NHS Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention (QIPP) program and is currently applied to assist other NHS hospitals for better understanding about enhancing the quality of such services. NNUH is providing services to a rural area of the UK, where faster access to CT scans is vital for patients suffering from strokes caused by a blood clot. This allows stroke doctors to detect and identify the type of stroke and then start using thrombolytic drugs during the critical period, significantly enhancing the chance of better recovery of the a patient.

Dr. West also noted that radiology now has become a factor responsible for a major role in the treatment of stroke patients. He said ‘‘It sits centrally to the delivery of those services right from the point the paramedic identifies the patient and calls that case into hospital," he added "A stroke assessment nurse is waiting to assess the patient and then refer them straight to us. Previously this would have taken hours to achieve. Now, once the decision to image has been made, we can image them within 10 minutes. As allied health professionals we are in a really good position to influence the way patients are treated because we are right at the centre of a patient’s care pathway." Dr. West continued "we know what works well, and what doesn't," he added. "We can identify where the constraints are and then unlock them to deliver a better service."

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