By Bob Katzen

The Senate 40-0, approved and sent to the House a bill that would allow first responders to transport stroke patients to the facilities best equipped to treat them, rather than the closest, as currently required. The measure is designed to ensure patients experiencing the most severe cases of stroke are triaged by ambulance crews and transported to hospitals capable of performing procedures to remove the blood clot causing the stroke, restore blood supply to the brain and save threatened tissue.

“What is particularly troubling is that in many cases the death and disability is largely preventable,” said sponsor Sen. Marc Montigny (D-New Bedford). “We must act now to implement necessary reforms so that our loved ones can receive the very best care and treatment. The things we can do now through this bill are pretty simple and reflect what many medical professionals agree are necessary to modernize our system of care. Lives are simply more important than the bottom line of any business or desire to maintain the status quo.”

“If you’re having a stroke, it’s critical that you get proper medical attention right away,” said Allyson Perron Drag, government relations director for the American Heart Association in Massachusetts. “Getting the right treatment immediately may minimize the long-term effects of a stroke and even prevent death. This bill will save lives and prevent disability.”

According to the American Heart Association, in 2017 stroke accounted for about one of every 19 deaths nationally. In Massachusetts, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death, claiming 2,370 lives per year.

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