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American Heart Association EMS Survey Uncovers Deficiencies in Response, Treatment and Transfer of Patients With Most Deadly Heart Attacks
Date:2/16/2009

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  • using an advanced technology like Blue Tooth or mobile phone to transmit the ECG algorithm or reading.
  • EMS field personnel remotely activate hospital catheterization ("cath") labs only 40 percent of the time. (Cath labs perform procedures like angioplasty and stenting). This can significantly delay evaluation and treatment.
  • Destination protocols are only used a third of the time to enable EMS to take STEMI patients directly to a hospital capable of providing angioplasty/stenting 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Instead, many EMS departments take patients to the closest hospital, which can cause significant delays to appropriate care.
  • Only about 20 percent of hospitals are able to perform procedures like angioplasty and stenting for STEMI patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • "We were encouraged that more EMS systems than anticipated had vehicles equipped with 12 lead ECGs, devices that diagnose STEMI and other heart attacks," said Robert E. O'Connor, M.D., chair of the American Heart Association's Mission: Lifeline Emergency Cardiovascular Care task force. "However, we found the need for better systems to allow EMS to transmit data from ECGs and activate the cath lab on the way to the hospital and for policies allowing them to take patients to the facility able to provide appropriate care, whether it's the closest facility or not."

    According to the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guidelines, primary PCI, typically balloon angioplasty with stenting, is the preferred treatment over clot busting drugs if it can be achieved within 90 minutes. EMS is a critical part of the system of care to decrease time to treatment for STEMI patients.

    In coming months, the association's staff will receive survey data for th
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    SOURCE American Heart Association
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