Diagnosis of stroke by emergency medical dispatchers and its impact on the prehospital care of patients

J. Alfredo Caceres, Malik M. Adil, Vikram Jadhav, Saqib A. Chaudhry, Swaroop Pawar, Gustavo J. Rodriguez, M. Fareed K. Suri, Adnan I. Qureshi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Background Emergency medical dispatchers represent the first line of communication with a patient, and their decision plays an important role in the prehospital care of stroke. We evaluated the rate and accuracy of stroke diagnosis by dispatchers and its influence in the prehospital care of potential stroke patients. Methods We analyzed the 2009 National Emergency Medical Services Information System. Study population was based on the diagnosis of stroke made by emergency medical technicians (EMT). This was then divided in those coded as stroke/cerebrovascular accident versus others reported by dispatchers and compared with each other. Results In all, 67,844 cases were identified as stroke by EMT, but transportation time was available for 52,282 cases that represented the final cohort. Cases identified as stroke by dispatchers were 27,566 (52.7%). When this group compared with stroke cases not identified by dispatchers, we found that the mean age was significantly higher (71.2 versus 68.6 years, P <.0001); advanced life support was dispatched more frequently (84% versus 72.8%, P <.0001), dispatchers offered help and instructions to the caller more frequently, and they arrived at a facility at a shorter time (41.8 versus 49.8 minutes, P < 0001). Sensitivity and specificity for the diagnosis of stroke by dispatchers were 34.61 and 99.46, respectively. Conclusions Recognition of symptoms and diagnosis of a potential stroke by dispatchers positively affect the care of patients by decreasing the arrival time to a hospital and providing the highest level of prehospital care possible. Education is needed to increase dispatcher's detection of stroke cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e610-e614
JournalJournal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • EMS
  • Stroke
  • diagnosis
  • dispatcher

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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