Study: Ambulance Arrival to ER Better for Stroke Victims

You may not be doing a stroke victim a favor by driving the patient to the hospital. People who arrive by ambulance are far more likely to get fast care once they get to the emergency room, new research shows.

Dr. Yousef Mohammad at Ohio State University studied records on more than 630,000 stroke patients and found that those who came by ambulance saw a doctor sooner and were more likely to be admitted than those who arrived by car, by foot or by public transportation.

A second study of nearly 500 stroke patients by researchers in Portland, Ore., found that ambulance patients were more likely to promptly receive crucial tests.

When lights and sirens are blaring, "the floodgates open up and everyone pays attention," as opposed to a woman quietly pushing her husband in a wheelchair, said Dr. Joseph Broderick, a stroke expert from the University of Cincinnati, who had no role in the research.

People often panic and drive stroke victims to the hospital, especially if they live close to one, he said. The better course is to call 911, he said.

The studies also reveal much about hospital worker attitudes, Mohammad said.

"The patient needs to be treated the same," regardless of how he or she gets to the emergency room, he said.

Both studies were presented Thursday at an American Stroke Association conference in Florida.