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Better Heart Attack Care Stems from Innovative Leadership

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, September 7, 2012

The biggest area of opportunity, he explains, involved cardiac care, simply because those exhibiting symptoms of cardiac distress were the lion's share of those transported to the hospital for treatment. At the top of the list was finding a way to improve communication between the hospital and EMS providers so that patient care could be improved.

Along the way, they developed an entirely new treatment protocol.

"All this is being done simply by talking between the ED physician and EMS transporters," Suehs says. "Cardiologists can determine in real time what condition the heart is in and be prepared for that diagnostic event.

Improving communication is one thing, but here's where it gets really interesting: Suehs  and his colleagues took a close look at the most serious and significant heart attacks and studied the use of EKG leads.

It turns out that about a third of the patients who were actually having a heart attack did not complain of chest pains. Results showed that limiting pre-hospital EKG testing only to patients who complain of chest pain can significantly delay diagnosis and negatively impact treatment time.

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