SUNDAY, Aug. 3 (HealthDay News) — More accurate decisions about treatment of stroke patients in remote locations can be made using telemedicine consultations, compared with telephone consultations, according to U.S. researchers.
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Telemedicine includes real-time, two-way audio and video and digital imaging and communications.
The study included 222 adult stroke patients at four remote sites in California who were randomly assigned to telemedicine (111 patients) or telephone consultation (111 patients) to assess their suitability for treatment with thrombolytic drugs.
Correct treatment decisions were made in 98 percent of telemedicine consultations and in 82 percent of telephone consultations. Thrombolytics were given to 31 percent of patients in the telemedicine group and to 25 percent of patients in the telephone group.
After three months, both groups had similar rates of stroke recurrence or death. But this could be because the study was halted early, because it was clear that telemedicine was far superior when making treatment decisions, the study authors said.
"The results of this trial show that telemedicine is efficacious for making acute medical decisions. Stroke telemedicine is widely implemented and discussed, but despite its dissemination, its efficacy has not previously been shown. Our results support the use of telemedicine to make urgent treatment decisions, such as whether to use thrombolytic therapy for acute stroke," wrote Dr. Brett C. Meyer, of the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine Stroke Center, and colleagues.
The study was published online Sunday in The Lancet Neurology and was expected to be in the September print issue of the journal.
— Robert Preidt
SOURCE: The Lancet Neurology, news release, Aug. 2, 2008
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