I've mentioned my misdiagnosed stroke back in 2001 before. But I believe hospitals have come a long way since then. Many facilities have stroke teams in place to quickly diagnose stroke. This is great, because time matters. Every second you're having a stroke, vital brain cells are dying. Your chances of being disabled or worse, dying, increase by the minute. Stroke patients don't have time for second guessing, we need a quick diagnosis and quick decisions made on a treatment plan. Finally, most of us are getting that. Now, it's amazing to see even more done, especially in this high-tech world be live in.
In West Virginia and other states across the nation, hospitals are taking a cutting edge approach to diagnosing stroke, especially in rural areas. Neurologists are the ones on the front lines of diagnosing a stroke, but many emergency departments don't have a neurologist on staff every second of every day. So, now, some hospitals can offer a neurologist to certain ER's at a moment's notice.
They are doing it with the use of an RP-7 robot (RP stands for Remote Presence), which provides two-way audio-visual communication between a doctor and a patient. It's being used in emergency departments to quickly diagnose a stroke. By using this technology, a neurologist is available to patients from afar without ever leaving their office. There is actually a video screen on the robot, so patients can see the doctor's face and hear him or her in real time. The doctor can perform a full evaluation with the patient and quickly determine if that patient is having a stroke or not.
There are currently two robots installed in West Virginia with the hopes of 8 robots total by the end of the year. No doubt this would have sped up my diagnosis. I'm lucky; a neurologist was on site doing rounds at the time of my stroke. It still took more than 30 minutes though, while the emergency doctors were trying to figure out what was wrong with me.
I think advances like the robot will lessen the number of patients being misdiagnosed. Also, the fact that stroke teams are now in place at many hospitals across the nation won't hurt either.