Patients dying due to lack of stroke units

HUNDREDS of Australians are dying or being left disabled because they cannot access hospital stroke units, a major audit has found.

An audit of 188 hospitals across the country found just 58% of the 26,000 stroke patients treated this year were admitted to stroke units despite the crucial role they can play in saving lives.

But even in hospitals with stroke units, access was still problematic, with nearly a third of stroke patients instead being treated on general wards.

The audit found thrombolysis was not available to most patients, with only 36% of the 188 hospitals audited using thrombolysis and just 1170 patients receiving it.

"Access to thrombolysis is very low," National Stroke Foundation chief executive Dr Erin Lalor said, adding that the drug could only be used in patients presented to stroke units within 4.5 hours of having a stroke.

"Improving access to stroke units and setting up more