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Prehospital thrombolysis: Lessons from Sweden and their application to the United Kingdom

Benger, Jonathan; Karlsten, Rolf; Eriksson, Bengt


Jonathan Benger

Rolf Karlsten

Bengt Eriksson


Objective: To study the successful implementation of paramedic administered prehospital thrombolysis in Sweden, and to consider the implications of this for the UK. Methods: A series of research visits were undertaken, including visits to Uppsala Hospital and dispatch centre, ambulance stations in several counties of Sweden and Dalarna County, which has one of the longest experiences of telemedicine supported prehospital thrombolysis in Europe. Data relating to prehospital thrombolysis, stages in successful implementation, and potential barriers to change were identified. Results: Two thirds of the hospitals in Sweden now have some form of prehospital thrombolysis. A nationally agreed and standardised training programme and the fact that many ambulance paramedics are also qualified nurses has facilitated successful introduction, but Sweden's low population density is also an important factor. Data from Dalarna County indicate that the median "pain to needle" time has been reduced by 45 minutes with a concurrent reduction in complications from 50% to 25% (p=0.018). Inhospital mortality has also reduced from 12% to 6%, but with the small numbers involved this improvement does not achieve statistical significance (p=0.36). Conclusion: If the outcome of acute myocardial infarction in the United Kingdom is to be improved, and National Service Framework targets met, then prehospital thrombolysis is an important development. Several technical solutions already exist, and a single bolus thrombolytic agent is now available, but the main barriers to full implementation are related to the establishment of an effective training programme and the organisational changes that will facilitate this new practice. High quality research is urgently needed to guide the implementation of prehospital thrombolysis in a clinically and cost effective way.


Benger, J., Karlsten, R., & Eriksson, B. (2002). Prehospital thrombolysis: Lessons from Sweden and their application to the United Kingdom. Emergency Medicine Journal, 19, 578-583.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Nov 1, 2002
Deposit Date Jan 21, 2010
Journal Emergency Medicine Journal
Print ISSN 1472-0205
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 19
Pages 578-583
Keywords pre-hospital thrombolysis, Sweden, UK
Public URL
Publisher URL