Posted on November 27, 2017

Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Stroke Program has become the first of its kind in the Middle East to be recertified by the Joint Commission International (JCI). This latest achievement was confirmed following an extensive review under JCI’s Clinical Care Program Certification (CCPS) Third Edition. The HMC Stroke Program operates under Hamad General Hospital (HGH).

“JCI certification is based on quality and safety across all clinical and management functions and is considered the gold standard in global healthcare,” explained Professor Ashfaq Shuaib, Director of HMC’s Neurosciences Institute.

Recertification of the Stroke Program is a significant achievement for HMC. It independently endorses the quality of care the service has consistently delivered since first gaining JCI certification in 2014. The number of stroke patients treated at HGH’s dedicated stroke ward has increased year on year since 2014, as Dr. Naveed Akhtar, Director of HMC's Stroke Ward, explained: “Due to the high prevalence in Qatar’s population of many risk factors for stroke – including diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, and inactivity – the incidence of stroke is high. In 2014, we treated around 900 stroke patients, a number that has risen to 1,390 in 2017 and ongoing.”

To receive the recertification, HMC’s Stroke Program team successfully met the JCI inspection’s strict criteria, which assessed the quality and safety of the full spectrum of services involved in caring for stroke patients, including HMC’s ambulance, emergency, radiology and rehabilitation teams. “I would like to thank our key partners in Qatar, including the Ministry of Public Health, as well as HMC’s senior leadership and all staff and teams involved in making this happen. I look forward to working together to raise the quality of care we offer even further,” Professor Shuaib added.

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HMC’s Stroke Program team has continued to improve care outcomes for patients, despite increasing volumes. Recent improvements in care outcomes include:

  • Increased public knowledge of stroke, boosted by HMC’s national stroke awareness campaign. The campaign’s key objective was to educate people on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke and the correct action to take if they suspect a stroke. The campaign has contributed to an increase in the number of stroke patients calling for an ambulance, rather than driving themselves to hospital - rising from 50 percent in 2014 to 66 percent at present.
  • Reduced average length of stay in hospital for stroke patients. Time of stay has steadily decreased from 8.9 days in 2013 to 5.9 days in 2017. This demonstrates the effective nature of care being provided by the service. 
  • In addition to thrombolysis - internationally recognized as a very effective treatment in acute ischemic stroke, which must be given within 4.5 hours of the onset of symptoms - the HMC stroke team now regularly utilizes interventional thrombectomies, the retrieval of blocked vessel clots through a catheter.

“The number of IV thrombolysis and interventional thrombectomy treatments we carry out at HMC has increased threefold since 2014. Both these treatments must be given quickly following a stroke. This requires effective and timely assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of stroke patients by everyone involved in the care process,” said Dr. Akhtar.