Emerg Med J 29:848-850 doi:10.1136/emermed-2011-200150
  • Short report

Feasibility study to assess the use of the Cincinnati stroke scale by emergency medical dispatchers: a pilot study

  1. S Claiborne Johnston4
  1. 1Department of Emergency Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
  2. 2Division of Emergency Medicine, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, USA
  3. 3American Medical Response, Santa Cruz, California, USA
  4. 4Department of Neurology and Epidemiology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Prasanthi Govindarajan, UCSF Medical Center, 505 Parnassus Avenue, L 126 mail code 0208, San Francisco, CA 94143-0208, USA; prasanthi.ramanujam{at}
  1. Contributors Conception and design (PG, SCJ, DG) or analysis and interpretation of data (PG, JP, NTD). Drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content (PG, SCJ, DG, JP, NTD) and final approval of the version to be published (PG, SCJ, DG, JP, NTD).

  • Accepted 19 July 2011
  • Published Online First 17 August 2011


The emergency medical dispatcher (EMD) receiving a call via 911 is the first point of contact within the acute care system and plays an important role in early stroke recognition. Published studies show that the diagnostic accuracy of stroke of EMD needs to be improved. Therefore, the National Association of Emergency Medical Dispatchers implemented a stroke diagnostic tool modelled after the Cincinnati stroke scale across 3000 cities worldwide. This is the first time a diagnostic tool that requires callers to test physical findings and report those back to the EMD has been implemented. However, the ability of EMD and 911 callers to use this in real time has not been reported. The goal of this pilot study was to determine the feasibility of an EMD applying the Cincinnati stroke scale tool during a 911 call, and to report the time required to administer the tool.


  • Previous presentation: This study was presented as a poster at the National Association of EMS Physicians Annual Meeting, Bonita Springs, Florida, USA, in January 2011.

  • Funding This publication was supported by NIH/NCRR UCSF-CTSI grant no UL1 RR024131. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. PG is also supported by K08 HS 017965-02—Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality and the CTSI—K Program, University of California San Francisco.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study received ethics approval from the Committee of Human Research, University of California, San Francisco.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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