Impact of Covid-19 on Stroke Code Activations, Process Metrics, and Diagnostic Error

Faddi G.Saleh Velez, Ronald Alvarado-Dyer, Victor J.Del Brutto, Julián Carrión-Penagos, Zachary Bulwa, Shyam Prabhakaran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Purpose: In a comprehensive stroke center, we analyzed the stroke code activations (SCA), assessed the impact of Covid-19, and the measures taken by the local government to lessen the spread of the disease. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed SCA and classified them into 2 groups: pre-pandemic activations (February 15 to March 10) and Covid-19 pandemic activations (March 11 to April 30). The primary outcome was the ratio of true positive diagnoses of stroke relative to the total number of SCA in the 2 time periods. Results: Among the 212 SCA, 83 (39.2%) were from the pre-pandemic period, whereas 129 (60.8%) were from the pandemic period, 147 (69.3%) in the Emergency Department (ED) versus 65 (30.7%) in the inpatient service. In the ED cohort, a rapid decrease in the number of SCA at the beginning of the pandemic was followed by a gradual increase to pre-pandemic levels and a significant increase in the number of true positive strokes over time (44.2% vs 61.1%, p = 0.037). An increase in door-to-CT time (p = 0.001) and an increase in the rate of diagnostic error in patients admitted from the ED (p = 0.016) were also seen. The in-hospital cohort had a sustained decrease in the number of SCA following the pandemic declaration, with no difference in the rate of true positive stroke. Conclusions: We observed a rapid decline and slow recovery in ED SCA with a shift toward increased true positive cases following the Covid-19 pandemic. Also, delays in obtaining CT and diagnostic error was increased, however, no difference in early clinical outcomes were seen between groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-203
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • acute stroke
  • Covid-19
  • pandemic
  • stroke code
  • stroke mimics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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