Doctor Writes His Own Prescription For Stroke Care : Shots - Health News Worries about a stroke led a Connecticut doctor to keep a note on his bedside table asking for a clot-busting drug in case he was unable to ask for it himself. It came in handy.

Doctor Writes His Own Prescription For Stroke Care

Eighty-three-year-old Seymour Kummer knows a thing or two about stroke. He's seen a bunch in his years as a family doctor in Rockville, Connecticut.

Dr. Seymour Kummer wrote his own prescription for t-PA. Courtesy of Dr. Kummer hide caption

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Courtesy of Dr. Kummer

He knew he was at risk of a stroke too. And he was convinced that if it happened to him, it would be important to get to a hospital that was prepared to give him a clot-busting drug called t-PA right away. The medicine, given as an injection, can sometimes halt a stroke in its tracks, saving brain cells. Studies show it has to be given within a few hours of symptoms first appearing.

But Kummer worried something might go wrong. What if he couldn't tell doctors what he wanted?

His son-in-law John Auerbach recalls Kummer's rationale: "Wow! If this ever happens, there'll be a lot going on, it'll be easy to forget, I might tell my wife now but the stroke might happen two years from now."

So Kummer decided to make a sign and put it on his bedside table. He asked his wife to pin it to his pajamas or shirt as soon as she called 911.

Here's what the handwritten sign said: "Sy says -- When having a stroke, get to the hospital as soon as possible -- within the first six hours. Ask for a T.P.A" (Actually, studies say the drug should be given within the first four-and-a-half hours.)

The sign came in handy. One Saturday morning last month Kummer suddenly had right-sided weakness and slurred speech. He was sure he was having a stroke.

"He took the sign and with his good hand held it to his chest," says Auerbach, who happens to be the public health commissioner of Massachusetts. "So when the ambulance came there was no question he wanted to go to a hospital where he could get t-PA."

Auerbach thinks it made a big difference. "He has some relatively minor loss of hand movement, which he's getting back, and some slurring of speech, which is going away too," he reports. "It's entirely due to t-PA."

Skeptics would point out that some stroke victims get better without t-PA. But Kummer didn't want to take the chance.

On Monday at noon E.S.T. you can join me on the Shots blog for a live Web chat on with Dr. Lee Schwamm, a neurologist who directs the stroke center at Massachusetts General Hospital.