A new rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS Final FY 2010 Rule) focuses on improving stroke patient care in hospitals, says a statement from the American Heart Association, Dallas.

Beginning 2010, hospitals submitting Medicare claims for stroke must let CMS know if they participate in a database registry for stroke care, such as that maintained by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke (GWTG-Stroke) quality improvement initiative, says the statement.

The rule also identifies stroke care quality measures hospitals could be required to report for reimbursement beginning in 2012. The same measures have been part of Get With The Guideline-Stroke since 2001.

Lee H. Schwamm, MD, chair of the GWTG National Steering Committee and director of the TeleStroke and Acute Stroke Services at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, says the final rule incorporates what the American Heart Association has long advocated as important for improving stroke care at the nation’s hospitals.

The American Heart Association has worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The Joint Commission to hone in on the most important measures for evidence-based stroke care.

The National Quality Forum, a nonpartisan organization that reviews and endorses measures for use by quality organizations, insurance companies and CMS, has since endorsed eight of the measures and CMS is considering them for future reporting, says the statement.

The measures are:

1. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) prophylaxis by end of hospital day two

2. Discharged on antithrombotic therapy

3. Patients with atrial fibrillation/flutter receiving anticoagulant therapy

4. Thrombolytic therapy administered

5. Antithrombotic therapy by end of hospital day two

6. Discharged on statin medication

7. Stroke education provided

8. Assessed for rehabilitation

CMS is also considering including a measure of hospital stroke mortality derived from claims data. CMS’s attention to stroke mortality is another indication of a new focus on the importance of addressing the quality of stroke care for the Medicare population.

The American Heart Association has been using these and other measures in its GWTG quality improvement program since 2001.

In a study published earlier this year in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, GWTG-Stroke participation was associated with increased adherence in all stroke performance measures.

More information on Get With The Guidelines-Stroke can be found at www.americanheart.org/getwiththeguidelines.

 [Source: American Heart Association]