Original Research

A retrospective analysis of time delays in patients presenting with stroke to an academic emergency department

Diteboho Khalema, Lara N. Goldstein, Susan Lucas
South African Journal of Radiology | Vol 22, No 1 | a1319 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajr.v22i1.1319 | © 2018 Diteboho Khalema, Lara Nicole Goldstein, Susan Lucas | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 February 2018 | Published: 21 June 2018

About the author(s)

Diteboho Khalema, Department of Radiology, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Lara N. Goldstein, Department of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Susan Lucas, Department of Radiology, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

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Background: Stroke presents commonly to the emergency department (ED), and is a common cause of morbidity and mortality in South Africa. Early ED presentation and early neuroimaging are required in order for thrombolysis to be a potential therapeutic modality.


Objectives: To determine the time to ED presentation, time to computed tomography (CT) scan and the potential influencing factors for patients with stroke.


Methods: A retrospective record review of all patients who presented with clinical features of stroke to a tertiary academic ED in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 01 January to 31 December 2014.


Results: Data from 232 eligible stroke patients were analysed. The median time to presentation to the ED was 33 h with the majority of patients (81.3%) presenting after the 4.5 h window for thrombolysis. The median time to CT was 8 h. Only 3.9% of patients had a CT scan within one hour of arrival. Patients with loss of consciousness were associated with earlier hospital presentation (p = 0.001). None of the patients were thrombolysed.


Conclusion: Patients with stroke commonly present late to hospital. If we are to make a difference in this group of vulnerable patients, further education and training needs to be emphasised regarding ‘time is brain’. Communication and commitment is also required by the emergency medical services, ED and radiology staff in order to prioritise stroke patients and to reduce delays.



Emergency Department; stroke


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