Wall Street Journal Features Life-Saving Telestroke Consult

March 3, 2015

Martin and Carol Duffner of Festus, Missouri

Dr. J. Dustin Rosenhamer, Mercy neurologist in Oklahoma City

By Mercy's John Winkelman

Martin Duffner doesn’t remember any of the details, but his story is so significant that it caught the attention of the The Wall Street Journal.

The 75-year-old from Festus, Missouri, was checking the tire pressure on his vehicle when he became dizzy and started having double vision. Fortunately, his wife Carol went looking for him in the garage at about the same time and helped him to his favorite living room chair.

“I said, ‘Marty if you don’t answer me, I’m calling 911,' " Carol Duffner recalled. Paramedics from the Joachim-Plattin Ambulance District arrived and found him unresponsive, so they rushed him to Mercy Hospital Jefferson in Crystal City where he was immediately given a CT scan.

Through Mercy’s virtual telestroke network, Dr. J. Dustin Rosenhamer, a neurologist at Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City, evaluated Martin Duffner, checked the CT scan, reviewed his medical history through the electronic medical record, and ordered tPA, the clot-busting drug for stroke patients.

The tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is most effective when given within three hours of the stroke onset, or up to 4.5 hours for some patients. Because of the fast action of his wife, the ambulance crew, emergency room, and the secure access to the stroke specialist in Oklahoma, Martin received the drug about an hour and 6 minutes from the first sign of stroke.

He was flown by helicopter to Mercy Hospital St. Louis for additional evaluation, where an angiogram showed his arteries open. The tPA had done its job.

“I woke up and they asked me if I knew where I was. I knew I was in a hospital, but I didn’t know which one,” Martin said.

His breathing tube was removed and he was able to raise his arms and legs on request.

“At first I had trouble lifting my left leg, but about the third try, I just told myself, ‘I’m going to do it,’” he said. After a night in the ICU and one in a medical patient room at Mercy in St. Louis, the rehab staff asked him to prove his steadiness by walking around the hospital floor. Just two days after a stroke that left him unconscious, he was headed home.

“The only after effect is that I get a little emotional when I think about it or talk about it,” Martin said.

Read The Wall Street Journal's article "A Fast Track to Treatment for Stroke Patients" by clicking here.

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