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February 19, 2002


Emory University Creates Statewide Paul Coverdell Stroke Registry

Emory University will create a statewide stroke registry through a $1 million award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The announcement of the registry will be made during the American Heart Association's Day at the Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 19. The registry is one of four such registries nationwide named the Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Registry, in honor of the late Georgia Senator Paul Coverdell and others who have died or been disabled from a stroke. Senator Coverdell died in July 2000 from complications of a stroke.

Emory neurologist Michael Frankel, M.D., chief of neurology at Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital and associate professor at Emory University, is the principal investigator for the CDC grant and director of the Paul Coverdell Stroke Registry in Georgia. The registry will help hospitals in Georgia track the impact of strokes and the availability of stroke treatment with the aim of improving the quality of care for stroke victims. The four statewide stroke registries, located in Georgia, Michigan, Ohio and Massachusetts, will serve as prototypes for a nationwide stroke registry.

"The purpose of the registry is to collect information about patients who are admitted to hospitals in Georgia with acute stroke symptoms," Dr. Frankel says. "This will allow us to learn more about the impact of stroke in Georgia and improve the quality of care at the participating hospitals. This is the first time anyone has ever attempted to collect data on a large population of people suffering from strokes."

According to the CDC, stroke is the leading cause of adult disability and the number three cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer. And Georgia is in an area of the country referred to as the "stroke belt," which records a higher incidence of death and disability due to stroke than any other region in the country.

Dr. Frankel and his team randomly selected 60 hospitals to participate in the stroke registry out of 160 hospitals in Georgia. The hospitals will submit anonymous information about patients, including age, gender, race, type and severity of stroke, length of hospital stay and treatment. Participating hospitals will be able to see how their stroke care compares to other hospitals throughout the state, but none of the hospitals will be identified.

"We are assessing the quality of care at each participating hospital, but the information is for that hospital's eyes only," Dr. Frankel reports. "Over time, we will be able to provide feedback to the hospitals as the quality of care varies. We also will provide the hospitals educational materials based on national guidelines for the care of patients with acute stroke. We hope this will lead to improving the quality of care and preventing additional strokes."

The Georgia Stroke Registry will involve a close collaboration between Emory University, Grady Health System, the CDC, the Georgia Medical Care Foundation (Georgia's peer review organization), and selected Georgia hospitals working in partnership to improve the processes and outcomes of acute stroke care.

At the end of the one-year prototype grant, Dr. Frankel expects about 5,000 patients to have been entered into the stroke registry. "The information from those 5,000 patients will be used to improve the quality of care for all patients in Georgia," he says. Although there is no guarantee for funding beyond the first year, Dr. Frankel hopes that this project will lead to additional work in Georgia to limit the tremendous burden of disability caused by stroke.

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