Reasons why few patients with acute stroke receive tissue plasminogen activator

Despite the US Food and Drug Administration's approval in 1996, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) therapy for acute ischemic stroke remains substantially underused. We reviewed 3 potential reasons for low rates of tPA use: poor patient education, physicians' perceived risk of legal liability from negative patient outcomes, and insufficient reimbursement. The recent addition of diagnosis-related grouping code 559 will provide higher payment for stroke patients treated with tPA, creating a natural experiment to examine our third reason.