Chest pains, a classic red flag of a heart problem. When it leads someone to the hospital, a process quickly unfolds to determine whether the patient is having a heart attack.
“As soon as you arrive say you have chest pain, within 15 minutes we need to have an EKG and have a physician look at it,” says Cindy Brown, vice-president patient care services with Lee Memorial Health System.
A speedy process: in cases of acute heart attack, the patient moves on to emergency treatment. When it’s not a heart attack in process, patients still need to find out whether their chest pain is cardiac related. That’s where the system slowed.
“It could take up to 36 hours, a day and a half, to go through all the diagnostic tests and everything that needed to be done,” says Brown.
To fast track testing, Lee Memorial Health System put designated chest pain units within HealthPark Medical Center, Gulf Coast Medical Center and Cape Coral Hospital.
“I think we’re on the front end of a trend,” says Brown.
Using the latest protocols, patients are cared for by a team devoted to chest pain.
“We actually help look for those patients. We have an ER tracker where were able to look at their chief complaints then we’re able to tell if they’re appropriate for our program,” says Melissa Gilliam, physician assistant with Lee Memorial Health System.
This is where they get answers. The sole purpose is to run the initial tests to determine whether a patient has a heart issue. With everything in one place, the process moves like clockwork.
“We do what’s called point-of-care testing which means we’re able to draw your blood and determine whether or not the blood work shows you might have had a heart attack. That used to take about an hour to get the results, we’re able to get them now in 15 minutes,” says Brown.
Patients get their own room for the duration of their testing. The streamlined approach shaves both downtime and worry.
“Their anxiety is less, they’re happy, the family is happy because they’re not having to stress,” says Gilliam.