Telemedicine: The New Emergency Room Alternative

telemedicineJudy Buck remembers it well. It was a Saturday morning in August; she was making a grocery list when her life suddenly changed.

“Never would I even think about having a stroke and all the sudden my left side felt like it weighed 500 pounds,” Judy recalled. “It just dropped.”

Her husband Billy rushed her to Baylor-Irving where emergency doctor Charles Su and his team got to work.

CT Scan, blood test and this; a portable robot communication system which was wheeled into Judy’s room.

Meanwhile at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas neurologist Dion Graybeal got on his iPad mini and remotely joined Dr. Su at her bedside.

“Unfortunately in stroke, time is brain,” Dr. Su said. “About 1.9 million neurons every minute with lack of blood flow of continued ischemia.”

The time window for giving stroke patients a clot busting drug is about 4 hours but the earlier the better.

In Judy’s case; from stroke to treatment it was less than 90 minutes. We used a little telemedicine technology to interview Dr. Graybeal.

“There may or may not be a neurologist there and the emergency room physician may with or without neurologic expertise have to make the decision–is somebody who should receive IV-TPA as a lifesaving treatment to try to reduce disability and morbidity,” Dr. Graybeal said. “Time is neurons, it’s your memory it’s your ability to move your arms and legs, your thought process so the longer you wait the longer it takes to get our specialist to the bedside the longer it takes for us to give them the right medicines to help them.”

Judy got the right medicine at the right time and her husband Billy is thrilled.

“I do believe that this played a big part in her recovery,” Billy said. “We owe her life to what happened here.”

Ten days after her stroke Judy walked out of Baylor-Irving.

Telemedicine was science fiction when she was a kid but it’s here now and so is she.

“I am so thankful for the technology and the doctors,” Judy said. “I was so fortunate, I was so blessed.”


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