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Study: Toyota's Streamlined Manufacturing Process Can Also Benefit Stroke Patients

Jin-Moo Lee, Washington University

A new study out today from Washington University suggests that Toyota’s process for maximizing efficiency in manufacturing cars can also help hospitals improve their care of stroke patients.

Study lead Washington University stroke neurologist Jin-Moo Lee says with input from doctors, lab technicians, and other hospital staff, Barnes-Jewish Hospital was able to eliminate inefficiencies and cut the average time it took evaluate and treat stroke patients from an hour down to 37 minutes.

“Even more remarkable is that the percent of patients who are treated within 60 minutes of arrival — this is the recommendation by national guidelines — increased from 50 percent all the way up to almost 80 percent,” Lee said.

That’s compared to a national average of only 30 percent.

Lee says for strokes caused by a blood clot in the brain, patients need to be treated with a clot-dissolving medication as quickly as possible.

“The earlier you give it, the more effective the drug is, because what you’re doing is you’re minimizing brain damage,” Lee said. “And as time passes, there’s more and more brain damage that occurs after the onset of a stroke.”

Lee says the faster treatment times did not increase patients’ risk of brain hemorrhage, a possible devastating side-effect of the clot-dissolving drug.

His study is published in the journal Stroke.

Follow Véronique LaCapra on Twitter: @KWMUScience