Sometimes the solution is simple. On this occasion, even in medicine.
New research says that three routine checks can save the lives of stroke patients: the monitoring of temperatures, blood sugar levels and their ability to swallow.
It started with an experiment by nursing researchers, but Sandy Middleton, a Professor of Nursing Research at the Australian Catholic University in Sydney says the findings were more than anybody could have expected.
"We were very surprised and delighted. It was a very large effect, and it's very beneficial for stroke patients."
Patients in 19 stroke units in New South Wales were monitored by researchers at the Australian Catholic University and St Vincents Hospital.
Over the course of the study, half of the patients were regularly checked for fever and had their blood sugar levels and their ability to swallow food tested regularly.
The other half received standard care and treatment. Simeon Dale, is stroke care researcher at St Vincent's Hospital.
"It's quite straightforward. We asked them to monitor temperature and treat quickly and monitor blood sugars and treat quickly and then we trained the nurses to do swallow screens."
Middleton says the simple procedure had a dramatic effect:
"Patients who received our package were 16 per cent more likely to be independent and alive at three months following their stroke."
Researchers say they are working with the Australian Stroke Foundation to introduce the checks in as many stroke units in Australia as possible - but Middleton says there is hope--the findings will have a bigger impact.
"This is a study of international significance in that it is one of the first studies of its kind in stroke. And it's made even more significant in the fact that we were not testing a drug or a device, but evaluating the effect of good teamwork and good nursing care."
The study was published in The Lancet, one of the world's leading medical journals.
For CRI, I am Li Dong.