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Stroke prognosis depends on doctor

May 16, 2016
by Nicole Stempak, Senior Editor
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A physician’s prognosis could mean life or death for people suffering strokes, according to a new study published in the journal “Neurology.”

Nearly 800 physicians were asked to give prognosis and treatment recommendations for intracerebral hemorrhages (ICH), which comprise about 12 percent of all strokes.

The 742 practicing neurologists and neurosurgeons completed a written survey of two scenarios that had varied selected factors and outcomes. Both their predictions of 30-day mortality and treatment recommendations varied widely.

“Physicians vary substantially in ICH prognostic estimates and treatment recommendations,” the authors write. “This variability could have a profound effect on life and death decision-making and treatment for ICH.”

No physician demographic or personality characteristics were associated with treatment recommendations. Prognostic scores also affected treatment recommendations. The results highlight the need, especially in long term care, for proactive referrals, second opinions and team-based evaluations that can include a range of functional assessments.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging with grant support from the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research.