Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

RWJUH Honored By American Heart Association and American Stroke Association for Achievement in Stroke Care

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association recently presented Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) with the “Get with the Guidelines Bronze Award (GWTG)” for achievement in stroke care. RWJUH earned the prestigious designation for consistently maintaining an 85 percent or better compliance rate for seven stroke care measures over a consecutive 90-day period.

“We are extremely pleased that all of the hard work and commitment to improving our stroke care practices has paid off with this award,” said Virginia Roberts, RN, Director of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital’s Comprehensive Stroke Center. “Achieving this status was the result of a focused, multidisciplinary effort by our entire stroke care team to deliver the best care possible to patients who have suffered a stroke.”

To earn GWTG Bronze status, RWJUH consistently followed the 10 treatment guidelines established by the program. These guidelines include aggressive use of clot-busting stroke treatment medications such as tPA, antithrombotics, anticoagulation therapy, DVT prophylaxis, cholesterol-reducing drugs and smoking cessation counseling. The 90-day evaluation period which resulted in the Bronze Award, is the first step in an ongoing self evaluation by the hospital to consistently reach the 85 percent compliance level needed to sustain the award.

At RWJUH’s state-designated comprehensive stroke center, an interdisciplinary Stroke Center Steering Committee meets monthly to review stroke care response and practices with an eye toward enhancing the hospital’s overall performance in stroke care. The committee has initiated improvements such as a “brain attack” overhead page to ensure that the hospital’s stroke care team is assembled as quickly as possible once hospital staff is alerted that a stroke patient is on the way. The team also works closely with emergency medical service crews on educational programs to help them quickly identify early stroke symptoms. Identifying stroke symptoms immediately allows EMS crews and hospital staff to initiate a brain attack call before the patient’s arrival at the hospital, allowing the stroke care team to save precious minutes.

“There is an entire chain of events that needs to occur rapidly when we receive a brain attack call,” Roberts explained. “For example, the CAT-Scan area needs to be cleared, the lab needs to be aware that we will require immediate blood work analysis with expedited results, and the doctor needs to be ready for the patient’s arrival in the emergency department.”

The Comprehensive Stroke Center at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital has received the Gold Seal of Approval from The Joint Commission. To earn and maintain this certification, the Stroke Center embarked on an extensive on-site review by Joint Commission professionals to assure the deployment of rapid-response stroke treatment teams; the operation of designated inpatient stroke care units staffed by qualified stroke caregivers; the use of comprehensive, written stroke care protocols; the existence of an integrated system for managing stroke patients; compliance with professional standards; and a firm commitment from administrators as well as clinicians to provide up-to-date community education about stroke risks, symptoms and treatment.

The GWTG-Stroke program encourages performance improvement efforts and enhanced patient education to help hospitals improve all aspects of stroke care. GWTG-Stroke uses “the teachable moment,” the time soon after a patient has had a stroke, when they are most likely to listen and follow their health care professionals’ guidance. Studies demonstrate that patients who are taught how to manage their risk factors while still in the hospital reduce their risk of a second stroke. Through GWTG-Stroke, customized patient education materials are made available at the point of discharge, based on patients’ individual risk profiles. The take-away materials are written in an easy-to-understand format and are available in both English and Spanish. In addition, the GWTG Patient Management Tool provides access to up-to-date cardiovascular and stroke science at the point of care.

According to the American Stroke Association, each year approximately 700,000 people suffer a stroke—500,000 are first attacks and 200,000 are recurrent attacks. Of stroke survivors, 21 percent of men and 24 percent of women die within a year, and for those aged 65 and older, the percentage is even higher.

To locate a physician affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, please call 1-888-MD-RWJUH or visit

About the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

The Stroke Center at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital offers comprehensive, compassionate, state-of-the-art care for people who have had a stroke or other critical neurologic conditions. The Stroke Center at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital has been awarded the Gold Seal of Approval and achieved Disease-Specific Care Certification for Acute Care Stroke from The Joint Commission.

About Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) is a 600-bed academic medical center and the principal hospital of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, N.J.

RWJUH is an innovative leader in advancing state-of-the-art care. Its Centers of Excellence include cardiovascular care, from minimally invasive heart surgery to transplantation; cancer care; and women’s and children’s care, including The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital (

The hospital is a Level I Trauma Center and serves as a national resource in its ground-breaking approaches to emergency preparedness.

RWJUH has earned significant national recognition for clinical quality and patient safety. It ranks among “America’s Best Hospitals,” according to U.S.News & World Report’s 2012 survey; it is the sixth consecutive year that RWJUH has achieved this prestigious ranking. Also in 2012, U.S.News & World Report ranked BMSCH among the nation’s “Best Children’s Hospitals.” The American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer has rated RWJUH among the nation's best comprehensive cancer centers. The Leapfrog Group rated RWJUH among the 50 exceptional U.S. hospitals, as published in Consumers Digest, and has given the hospital an “A” grade for safety and quality. Harvard University researchers, in a study commissioned by The Commonwealth Fund, identified RWJUH as one of the top 10 hospitals in the nation for clinical quality. RWJUH is a four-time recipient of the prestigious Magnet Award for Nursing Excellence


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