BACKGROUND: Timely thrombolytic therapy can improve stroke outcomes. Nevertheless, the ability of US hospitals to meet guidelines for intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) remains suboptimal. What is unclear is whether hospitals accurately perceive their rate of tPA "door-to-needle" (DTN) time within 60 minutes and how DTN rates compare across different hospitals.
METHODS AND RESULTS: DTN performance was defined by the percentage of treated patients who received tPA within 60 minutes of arrival. Telephone surveys were obtained from staff at 141 Get With The Guidelines hospitals, representing top, middle, and low DTN performance. Less than one-third (29.1%) of staff accurately identified their DTN performance. Among middle- and low-performing hospitals (n=92), 56 sites (60.9%) overestimated their performance; 42% of middle performers and 85% of low performers overestimated their performance. Sites that overestimated tended to have lower annual volumes of tPA administration (median 8.4 patients [25th to 75th percentile 5.9 to 11.8] versus 10.2 patients [25th to 75th percentile 8.2 to 17.3], P=0.047), smaller percentages of eligible patients receiving tPA (84.7% versus 89.8%, P=0.008), and smaller percentages of DTN ≤60 minutes among treated patients (10.6% versus 16.6%, P=0.002).
CONCLUSIONS: Hospitals often overestimate their ability to deliver timely tPA to treated patients. Our findings indicate the need to routinely provide comparative provider performance rates as a key step to improving the quality of acute stroke care.