Achieving More Rapid Door-to-Needle Times and Improved Outcomes in Acute Ischemic Stroke in a Nationwide Quality Improvement Intervention

Ying Xian, Haolin Xu, Eric E. Smith, Jeffrey L. Saver, Mathew J. Reeves, Deepak L. Bhatt, Adrian F. Hernandez, Eric D. Peterson, Lee H. Schwamm, Gregg C. Fonarow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The benefits of tPA (tissue-type plasminogen activator) in acute ischemic stroke are time-dependent. However, delivery of thrombolytic therapy rapidly after hospital arrival was initially occurring infrequently in hospitals in the United States, discrepant with national guidelines. Methods: We evaluated door-to-needle (DTN) times and clinical outcomes among patients with acute ischemic stroke receiving tPA before and after initiation of 2 successive nationwide quality improvement initiatives: Target: Stroke Phase I (2010-2013) and Target: Stroke Phase II (2014-2018) from 913 Get With The Guidelines-Stroke hospitals in the United States between April 2003 and September 2018. Results: Among 154 221 patients receiving tPA within 3 hours of stroke symptom onset (median age 72 years, 50.1% female), median DTN times decreased from 78 minutes (interquartile range, 60-98) preintervention, to 66 minutes (51-87) during Phase I, and 50 minutes (37-66) during Phase II (P<0.001). Proportions of patients with DTN ≤60 minutes increased from 26.4% to 42.7% to 68.6% (P<0.001). Proportions of patients with DTN ≤45 minutes increased from 10.1% to 17.7% to 41.4% (P<0.001). By the end of the second intervention, 75.4% and 51.7% patients achieved 60-minute and 45-minute DTN goals. Compared with the preintervention period, hospitals during the second intervention period (2014-2018) achieved higher rates of tPA use (11.7% versus 5.6%; adjusted odds ratio, 2.43 [95% CI, 2.31-2.56]), lower in-hospital mortality (6.0% versus 10.0%; adjusted odds ratio, 0.69 [0.64-0.73]), fewer bleeding complication (3.4% versus 5.5%; adjusted odds ratio, 0.68 [0.62-0.74]), and higher rates of discharge to home (49.6% versus 35.7%; adjusted odds ratio, 1.43 [1.38-1.50]). Similar findings were found in sensitivity analyses of 185 501 patients receiving tPA within 4.5 hours of symptom onset. Conclusions: A nationwide quality improvement program for acute ischemic stroke was associated with substantial improvement in the timeliness of thrombolytic therapy start, increased thrombolytic treatment, and improved clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1328-1338
Number of pages11
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022


  • ischemic stroke
  • odds ratio
  • quality improvement
  • thrombolytic therapy
  • tissue-type plasminogen activator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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