FAST Team Takes Immediate Action to ID and Treat Stroke

The First Assessment Safe Team (FAST) is a rapid response team that was created as one of the initiatives in the nationwide Saving 100,000 Lives campaign. Early in 2007, the team implemented stroke protocols to identify and begin treating stroke among hospital inpatients immediately. “The FAST team was developed to keep hospital inpatients from losing their window of opportunity for treatment if they have a stroke,” said Dr. Pahner. Joyce Conner, RN, CCRN, weekend clinical supervisor of Critical Care Services, led the development of the program. As Conner explained, “Time is critical when dealing with a stroke. The protocols we developed allow the FAST team to start treatment immediately if a patient is exhibiting signs of a stroke. Any floor nurse who becomes concerned about a patient can call the FAST team, which can then initiate steps even when it is not possible to reach the patient’s physician right away.”

According to Conner, “The FAST team looks for acute changes such as slurring of speech, facial drooping or weakness. To rule out other possible causes, we check blood sugar and oxygen levels and review the patient’s medicines. All the while, we continue trying to reach their physician. In the meantime, we can go ahead and order a CAT scan and contact a neurologist. We can also do a thrombolytic screening to make sure they aren’t ruled out as a candidate for a clot-busting drug. By getting all the pieces in place, the doctors can take action more quickly to stop the progress of the stroke, and do everything possible to reverse the symptoms.”