Cross-sectional case-control studies (Blue)
The effects of the COVID‐19 pandemic on telemedical care have not been described on a national level. Thus, the authors investigated the medical stroke treatment situation before, during and after the first lockdown in Germany. In this nation‐wide, multicenter study, data from 14 telemedical networks including 31 network centers and 155 spoke hospitals covering large parts of Germany were analyzed regarding patients´ characteristics, stroke type/severity, and acute stroke treatment. A survey focusing on potential shortcomings of in‐hospital and (telemedical) stroke care during the pandemic was conducted. Between January 2018 and June 2020, 67,033 telemedical consultations and 38,895 telemedical stroke consultations were conducted. A significant decline of telemedical (p<0.001) and telemedical stroke consultations (p<0.001) during the lockdown in March/April 2020, and a reciprocal increase after relaxation of COVID‐19 measures in May/June 2020 was observed. Compared to 2018‐2019, neither stroke patients´ age (p=0.38), gender (p=0.44) nor severity of ischemic stroke (p=0.32) differed in March‐April 2020. While the proportion of ischemic stroke patients recommending endovascular treatment (14.3% vs. 14.6%; p=0.85) remained stable, there was a non‐significant trend towards a lower proportion of recommending intravenous thrombolysis during the lockdown (19.0% vs. 22.1%; p=0.052). Despite the majority of participating network centers treating patients with COVID‐19, there were no relevant shortcomings reported regarding in‐hospital stroke treatment or telemedical stroke care. The authors concluded that telemedical stroke care in Germany was able to provide full service despite the COVID‐19 pandemic, but telemedical consultations declined abruptly during the lockdown period and normalized after relaxations of COVID‐19 measures in Germany.
Christoph Vollmuth et al. Impact of the COVID‐19 pandemic on stroke teleconsultations in Germany in the first half of 2020. European Journal of Neurology. First published: 22 February 2021. doi: 10.1111/ene.14787